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Delhi vs Himachal: A season of new lows

Everyone saw it coming. The only people who failed to realise consequences of picking wrong players were cricketers of repute.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 16:12 IST

Everyone saw it coming. Everyone was talking about it from the last match against Punjab. The only people who failed to realise the consequences of picking wrong players, for the sake of obliging some corrupt officials, at the expense of deserving players, were cricketers (coach Madan Lal and skipper Mitthun Manhas) of repute.

"The game of cricket is a great leveller." Likewise, the game settled everything on the field itself. Tuesday was one such day as Delhi were thrashed by a huge margin of 141 runs (also conceding a bonus point) to Himachal Pradesh. And, more than the performance of its players, the DDCA's dirty politics should be held responsible for this shameful loss.

Asked to bat first, the top Himachal batsmen showed maturity and responsibility to put on 249 for six in their allotted 50 overs. Delhi, in reply, could only manage to crawl to 108 before being bowled out in 34.1 overs.

The match was basically looked upon as a battle between the two faction-ridden states, trying to settle their political scores with the help of their players. On the one hand, there was pressure from the DDCA Sports Committee to play offie Yogesh Sachdeva by changing a winning combination. Whereas, Himachal's BCCI nominated team management was under pressure to include half of the players on the sole basis of groupism. But having lived with this politics throughout a traumatic past Ranji Trophy season, the Himachal players looked more prepared to live with the situation, whereas Delhi's youngsters, along with their psyched-out seniors, caved in under the pressure.

Otherwise, Aakash Chopra (6), Shikhar Dhawan (21), Manhas (12) and Rajat Bhatia (2) were all capable of doing much better than their showing on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the blame has to be shared by all equally. And going by the equation so far, Delhi look to be out of the reckoning for the knockout phase.

The match commenced with a great batting display by former Himachal skipper Sandeep Sharma (78). After negotiating the new-ball attack of Amit Bhandari and Ishant Sharma well, he took almost every Delhi bowler to task. He was particularly harsh on "pressure boy" Sachdeva. He, along with Sangram Singh (58) and Manvinder Bisla (54) made sure Delhi paid for picking the wrong player. The two sixes that Singh and Bisla hit straight off Sachdeva were a treat to watch.

The controversially appointed Himachal skipper, Nishchal Gaur (23), again slapped his selectors with his below par performance while another player in question, Rajeev Nayyar, kept waiting, wearing pads from the beginning, for his chance.

The 60 runs given by Sachdeva in his 10 overs not only made a huge difference to the end result, it also ensured that his nearest competitor Suhail Sharma (Super Sub for this match) was kept at the ropes for the second consecutive game.

As soon as the Delhi players assembled before the start of the match, it was expected that regular skipper Manhas and coach Madan Lal would field a fair team for this match. But it turned out to be the same old story. It was particularly strange, given the last match situation, when both captain and coach refused to finalise the playing XI. The blame of picking Sachdeva was then put on assistant coach MS Jaggi, who was later on apparently hauled up for his act. The only point now is that if Jaggi was painted as criminal just two days ago, then on what grounds will both Manhas and Madan now explain their decision?

Anyway, cricket has now taught Delhi a lesson. "Don't rub me the wrong way or I will teach you a lesson", that's what Delhi mauled cricket should be telling its bosses!

SCOREBOARD

Himachal Pradesh

Nishchal b Bhandari23

Sandeep c Chhabra b Sachdeva78

Sangram b Nanda58

Bisla c Bhandari b Ishant54

Dogra not out 28

Panta c Manhas b Ishant0

Vikramjeet b Bhandari2

Abhineesh not out 2

Extras: (lb-1, b-1, w-1, nb-1) 4

Total: (for 6 wkts in 50 overs) 249

Fall of wkts: 1-78, 2-143, 3-181, 4-241, 5-241, 6-244.

Bowling: Amit Bhandari 10-0-57-2, Ishant Sharma 10-0-43-2, NS Negi 10-0-43-0, Chetanya Nanda 10-1-44-1, Yogesh Sachdeva 10-0-60-1.

Delhi

Chopra c Bisla b Thakur6

Dhawan c Bisla b Thakur21

Bisht c Dogra b Vikramjeet17

Manhas b Panta12

Rajat b Panta2

Chhabra c Bhatia b Vikramjeet0

Suhail c Gaur b Bhatia2

Negi c Dogra b Bhatia20

Nanda run out (Dogra) 0

Bhandari lbw b Bhatia11

Ishant not out 1

Extras: (lb-3, w-3, nb-10) 16

Total: (all out in 34.1 overs) 108

Fall of wkts: 1-32, 2-33, 3-66, 4-66, 5-66, 6-70, 7-72, 8-75, 9-101.

Bowling: Ashok Thakur 10-0-36-2, Vikramjeet Singh Malik 8-0-33-2, Rahul Panta 9-2-19-2, Vishal Bhatia 7.1-1-17-3.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 01:34 IST