Delhi managed to eke out a single point from their third Ranji Trophy match after Tamil Nadu’s valiant bid to chase down a small target of 139 was interrupted by bad light. The part-pooper bad light dashed the visitors’ plan of earning full points at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds of the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
However, the first innings lead helped Tamil Nadu take three points and move to sixth place, one spot above Delhi, who have just two points and are in the penultimate seventh place in Elite Group B table after their three matches
The result, which came on the back of some poor batting and lack of bowling depth, has seriously dented Delhi’s chances of making the knockout stages. Although they have four more matches left in the league phase, they will have to do exceedingly well considering only two of the remaining games are home matches.
In the tie against Tamil Nadu, Delhi had managed to score 303 in their first innings, thanks to half-centuries by in-form opener Dhruv Shorey (66), middle-order batsman Jonty Sidhu (57) and lower-order batsman Pranshu Vijayran (58), who is basically a seamer.
In response, Tamil Nadu found the going tough as they struggled to 200/5. But Delhi couldn’t press on the advantage as they let Tamil Nadu off the hook, allowing them to get to 427/8 before declaration.
Bowling has been Delhi’s weak link. They were relying on the trio of Ishant Sharma, Pradeep Sangwan and Simarjeet Singh ahead of the season but they all have been injured. A very young bowling line-up had to be fielded and the inexperience showed.
Delhi, batting the second time, came up with another shoddy display with the bat. But for Shorey’s and left-hander Vaibhav Rawal’s unbeaten 95, they would have folded for less than 150. Skipper Yash Dhull looked good but couldn’t build on his start which got him 37. Delhi were all out for 262 in the last session of the final day’s play.
Tamil Nadu, set 139 to win in about an hour, went for the target but they had to return to the pavilion with 54/3 in six overs after play was called off due to bad light.
Delhi lost the first game of the season outright in Pune against Maharashtra and then conceded a lead in the drawn second game in Guwahati against Assam.
The lack of preparation is showing as even the strong batting line-up is struggling for runs. Skipper Dhull, who came into first-class cricket with a bang last season, hasn’t been among the amount of runs he scored last season.
There was no preparatory camp for the team.
The problem is not lost on head coach Abhay Sharma. The former India A and India under-19 coach is struggling to sift fit and available players from those who aren’t.
“Batting-wise, I would say it was not sensible batting [in the match against Tamil Nadu],” he told Patriot.
There were no preparatory games ahead of the season. The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) didn’t even send a team to JP Atrey tournament, which prepares teams for first-class seasons. Many other associations did send their teams.
“The time to prepare for the season was very little. I can’t find who is good and who is not. If I could have had some time with the boys, I could have judged the players better,” Sharma added.
It should be noted that Sharma was brought from outside the DDCA system due to his achievements with junior Indian teams. But as a norm, he should have been given time with the boys either in a camp or in preparatory tournaments to form right combinations.
In an October 13 report, Patriot had mentioned that the junior and senior selection committees as well as coaching staff were appointed only on 30 September, a week after the JP Atrey tournament began and only a week before the teams were to depart for the first BCCI tournament of the season, giving them little time to warm up and compete.
“As far as bowling is concerned, the injuries have been so many. The preparation time is so little. Players are coming in and getting injured. Six players are injured. The medical team is assessing the injuries,” added Sharma.
Rana injured, new faces in the squad
Pacer Harshit Rana, who picked four wickets against Tamil Nadu, including three in the first innings, is out of the next match due to injury. He joins Ishant Sharma, Simarjeet and Sangwan in the recovery bench, weakening Delhi pace bowling further.
Left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and wicketkeeper-batsman Anuj Rawat have been dropped from the squad for the January 3 match against Saurashtra in Rajkot. Left-arm spinner Yogesh Sharma has been brought in along with openers Salil Malhotra and Vaibhav Sharma. Young wicketkeeper Krish Yadav has also been drafted in.
Squad for match vs Saurashtra in Rajkot: Yash Dhull (captain), Himmat Singh (vice-captain), Dhruv Shorey, Salil Malhotra, Vaibhav Sharma, Vaibhav Kandpal, Vaibhav Rawal, Jonty Sidhu, Lalit Yadav, Ayush Badoni, Hrithik Shokeen, Shivank Vashisth, Yogesh Sharma, Pranshu Vijayran, Kuldip Yadav, Lakshay Thareja (wk), Krish Yadav (wk), Prince Yadav, Divij Mehra.
Net bowlers: A Vaibhav, Siddhant Sharma.