New Delhi: After losing their season opener against Uttar Pradesh despite the presence of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, hosts Delhi will be out to get their Ranji Trophy campaign back on track when they take on Odisha at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Friday.
Sehwag, who skippered the team in that six-wicket loss in Ghaziabad, and his top-order team-mates along with fast bowler Ishant Sharma will set out for Ahmedabad for the first Test against England starting November 15, which means Delhi will be back to normal services at their home ground. Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya has put faith in the core group for the remainder of the season, which includes veteran batsman and captain Mithun Manhas and a bunch of younger players.
On the batting front they have Manhas, opener Shikhar Dhawan, Under-19 sensation Unmukt Chand, dependable wicketkeeper Puneet Bist and allrounder Sumit Narwal to take the charge. Manhas is coming off scores of 42 and 65 against UP, and though he failed in that match the highly talented Chand has the wherewithal to bounce back.
Delhi's bowling will be led by Ashish Nehra, Parvinder Awana and Pradeep Sangwan, ably supported by Narwal with his medium-pace bowling. Nehra brings experience into play – as he did in the last match by picking up three wickets – and Narwal was a revelation with four wickets. Vikas Mishra would be their lone spinner with skipper Manhas doing the role of the fifth bowler.
On the other hand, Natraj Behara’s Odisha come into this match without any live batting experience and with the bowlers hardly getting a work out due to the wash out against Tamil Nadu in Cuttack. They will be out to forget the 2011-12 season which was marred by some controversy and poor performance, and there is reason to believe they can really push Delhi.
Behera, who recently led East Zone to the Duleep Trophy title, is a key player in the team with his batting and leadership. The team has been strengthened by the return of wicketkeeper Haladhar Das, who was dropped mid-way through the last Ranji season on disciplinary grounds.
Odisha’s batting will revolve around Behera with Das, Biplab Samantray, Rakesh Mohanty, Govind Podder making up the middle order. To exploit the cold and chilly conditions at the Kotla, they have Basant Mohanty and Alok Mangaraj who can hit the deck. The match holds importance for both the teams, as they are in search of their first win to keep their hopes alive of progressing to the knock-out stage.
Delhi: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Unmukt Chand, 3 Puneet Bist (wk), 4 Mithun Manhas (capt), 5 Manan Sharma, 6 Manoj Chauhan, 7 Sumit Narwal, 8 Vikas Mishra, 9 Pradeep Sangwan, 10 Parvinder Awana, 11 Ashish Nehra
Odisha: 1 Natraj Behera (capt), 2 Biplab samantray, 3 Sandeep Mulia, 4 Govind Podder, 5 Abhilash Mallick, 6 Rakesh Mohanty, 7 Haladhar Das (wk), 8 Deepak Behera, 9 Basant Mohanty, 10 Alok Mangaraj, 11 Dhiraj Singh