Stars look to strike for Delhi

Cricket Ranji Trophy: Hosts intimidating line up will hold them in good stead against Uttar Pradesh

It is seldom that a Ranji Trophy match created such hype. With England here for the home series, the Indian cricketers are keen to serve their State teams and tune up for the Test matches.

Delhi is one such side packed with stars. Up against them will be Uttar Pradesh, a team capable of holding its own, and the outcome could be a riveting contest.

The track at the Nehru Stadium at Ghaziabad has a sprinkle of grass with lot of promise for the seamers. Delhi’s intimidating batting-line up comprising captain Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli — and they will like to use the match as a platform to get some runs under their belt.

Sehwag and Gambhir, who were once considered India’s best opening combination, have struggled of late to stack up big runs and the contest provides them an ideal opportunity to iron out some flaws, and get the much needed-confidence ahead of the England series.  

Though coach Vijay Dahiya has left it to Sehwag to pick his position in the final XI, it won’t be a surprise if the Delhi Dasher decides to come down the order, knowing his recent form. “Viru is the captain and important player in the side. He may open the innings but it will be his call where he wishes to bat,” Dahiya said.

Adding to the line-up will be India’s under-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand, who will be eager to make an impression. Apart from them, Mithun Manhas and Puneet Bisht bring in the experience having served Delhi for years.

Bowlers, led by left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra, too give an edge to Delhi. It will also be interesting to see how Ishant Sharma, returning from an ankle injury and working hard to gather wickets at the domestic level, fares, and the two frontline bowlers will have the support of Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana, though his fitness remains a concern.

Uttar Pradesh, coached by former India Test bowler Venkatesh Prasad, went through disciplined training session this morning. Their captain Suresh Raina, however, will join the side late in the night after leading India ‘A’ to draw against England at Mumbai.

Raina will be hungry to score runs, having had an ordinary run in the match against the Englishmen. He will have an able company in former India player Mohammad Kaif and talented Tanmay Srivastava.

In the absence of injured RP Singh and Piyush Chawla, Delhi’s batting will be tested by a pace-battery led by India bowler Praveen Kumar and Imtiyaz Ahmad. They also have a competitive all-rounder in Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Prasad looked ahead eagerly for the challenge Delhi posed. “Delhi are a very good side but our bowlers and batsmen know how to handle pressure, a lot of them have played in Duleep Trophy and against international players. As a team we are not overtly concerned about our opposition and we are looking forward to the contest. It will be a tough game.”

Teams: (from): Uttar Pradesh: Suresh Raina (captain),  Mohammad Kaif,  Tanmay Srivastava, Mukul Dagar, Parvinder Singh,  Arish Alam,  Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ali  Murtaza,  Amir Khan ( wicket-keeper), Praveen Kumar, Imtiyaz Ahmad, Praveen Gupta, Eklavya Dwivedi, Sudeep Tyagi,  Amit Singh.

Delhi: Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam  Gambhir,  Unmukt Chand,  Virat Kohli,  Mithun Manhas,  Puneet Bisht (wicket-keeper),  Milind Kumar,  Vikas Mishra,  Manoj Chauhan,  Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra,  Parvinder Awana, Sumit Narwal, Pradeep Sangwan.

Umpires: Amiesh Saheba, Umesh Dubey

Match referee: B Raghunath

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