New Delhi: With 11 points from four matches in Group B, a win will do no harm to Delhi's chances of making it to the quarter-finals of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, and it's not beyond the seven-time champions provided they ride the result-oriented but notorious track in Lahli.
The Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium at Lahli, a village close to the city of Rohtak in Haryana, is known for throwing up close, nerve-shredding encounters. The north India winter sends a chill down your spine even under cashmere wool in the stands. Couple those conditions with a pitch fully capable of swallowing 20 wickets in a day, and you have 22 souls enduring their toughest test.
All Lahli matches in the current season so far - even without winter fully setting in - have lived up to the stadium's reputation of throwing up outright wins. The biggest beneficiaries have been Odisha and Baroda who, after nail-biting wins over hosts Haryana, are ahead of Delhi at number one and two respectively in Group B.
All three matches at the north Indian venue this season have resulted in outright wins, and the Delhi captain says it suits his plans.
But Delhi skipper Shikhar Dhawan - despite it being his first visit to Lahli - thinks that works well for his team as they will anyway go for an outright win in the match against last year’s semi-finalists, which begins December 2. "Lahli mostly gives outright [wins]. This is the first time I'm going there, and we'll go for a win."
Delhi have turned the tide after their first-round loss to Uttar Pradesh to come back with a bonus-point win over Odisha and back-to-back draws against Baroda and Tamil Nadu. "I’m happy that we got three points [by virtue of taking the first-innings lead and enforcing the follow-on]," said Dhawan after the draw against Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. But Delhi couldn't bowl the visitors out twice and settled for a draw.
Talking about the squad for Lahli, Dhawan said the 15 should be the same though a fit-again veteran Ashish Nehra, who was ruled out of the last match, will lift the team. "The 15 will be the same. If Ashish bhai is fit, it will be a big boost in Lahli where fast bowlers get a lot of help. Ashish bhai's experience there will be immense for us," the Delhi captain said.