Will start preparing for next season in three weeks: DDCA CAC chief Chopra

- January 30, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Ex-India player Nikhil Chopra says fightback shown by Delhi towards the end of the season has been impressive but unlike last season, when there was no pre-season camp, preparations for next season will start within three weeks

Nikhil Chopra says that preparation will start with the core group. (Photo: Nikhil Chopra/Instagram)

Delhi’s Ranji Trophy season, which had started badly, ended on a positive note when the Yash Dhull-led team defeated Hyderabad by nine wickets in the last league encounter to finish on sixth place with 17 points in Elite Group B. The wins in last two matches, against Mumbai and Hyderabad, ensured Delhi 12 of those points and that helped them avoid relegation.

It has been a season of regrets. Regret at not having a pre-season camp, regret of not having fit players among others.

Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA)’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) chairman Nikhil Chopra, however, has promised to take the bull by the horns and start preparing for the next season right after the current season ends.

“The idea is that we are going to be starting the next season as soon as the [current] season finishes within three weeks,” Chopra told Patriot on Monday.

While Ranji Trophy, under-19 and under-19 teams’ season has ended, the Delhi under-25 men’s and the women’s teams are still busy with their assignments.

Chopra says that preparation will start with the core group.

“With regards to preparation, the idea is to get the core group together and do strength training as well as skills training. I want to look to do things in a much better and in a much more planned manner with the under-23s, under-19s, Ranji Trophy and same with the women as well. The idea is to go in a very, very planned manner. I am going to start the process as soon as the season finishes in the next three weeks. We are going to take things forward,” added the former India cricketer.

After the first four matches of the Ranji season, Delhi had only two points. But they then managed to eke out three points on first innings against Andhra and then defeated Mumbai at home before winning away against Hyderabad to eventually earn some respect.

The bowling attack which was deprived of experience due to injuries to Ishant Sharma, Navdeep Saini, Pradeep Sangwan and Simarjeet Singh relied on season debutants Harshit Rana, Divij Mehra, Pranshu Vijayran and Hrithik Shokeen. Pacer Rana, who picked seven wickets for 45 in the second innings to skittle out Hyderabad for just 124 in the last game, and had match figures of 10/108, ended the season with 21 wickets from five matches, while Mehra took 14 wickets from three games.

Vijayran took 13 scalps from six games and Shokeen also returned with 13 wickets but from five games.

In batting, Dhruv Shorey starred with 859 runs at an average of 95.44, comeback man Vaibhav Rawal hit 416 at 46.22 and Himmat Singh hit 362 at 45.25.

Skipper Yash Dhull had a torrid time and quite surprisingly had refrained from opening the batting in all the games save the last one when he returned to lead the side after an injury in the penultimate match.

Dhull’s debut season last year was full of runs and those had come opening the batting.

Ayush Badoni, who too debuted in first-class cricket in this season’s Ranji Trophy, finished with 231 runs in three games. His 191 in the last match against Hyderabad set up the match for Delhi, helping them make 433 in first innings and take a 78-run lead over Hyderabad’s 355. The lead put Hyderabad under pressure and they crumbled to 124 against Rana’s bowling. Delhi knocked off the 47-run target, losing just one wicket.

Chopra was happy with the way the season ended and believed that positive injection helped the team bounce back.

“There is always room for improvement but [the comeback in the last phase] goes to show the character of the side and that with a little bit of positive injection, the team really bounced back at the end of the season. The idea is to try and finish the season right at the top but we at least know that with a little bit of positive injection, what the team is capable of. So that was good,” he said.

Chopra and other members of the CAC, former India cricketers Gursharan Singh and Reema Malhotra, were left in an awkward position after the end of fourth game, a drubbing against Saurashtra, when the senior selection committee comprising Mayank Sidana, Gagan Khoda and Anil Bhardwaj had major argument over selection matters. The committee had to be disbanded.

Even coach Abhay Sharma’s job was on the line before the DDCA decided to avoid total chaos and wait for the end of the season to take a final call. Sharma had earlier blamed, in a chat with Patriot, lack of preparatory camp as the reason for poor start to the season.

Since the sacking of selectors by president Rohan Jaitley, though, things began looking up for Delhi as confusion over selections took a backseat and the team returned to winning ways.