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.
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.