Mumbai: Out-of-favour openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will be battling against time in their bid to get back to form as Delhi take on arch-rivals and defending champions Mumbai in a Group A Ranji Trophy match at the Bandra Kurla Complex on Wednesday.
Mumbai have 12 points from two games while Delhi has only two from as many matches. With the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag, Mithun Manhas and Unmukt Chand in their ranks, Delhi boasts of a top heavy batting line-up but it didn't click against Gujarat in their last game where they could only manage a point.
Mumbai, on the other hand, have started their campaign in right earnest having registered back-to-back outright wins in away games against Haryana and Punjab.
That cricket is a fickle game is proved when Gambhir and Sehwag came out for a net session at a deserted BKC complex today. A year back, no one would have bet that the star-opening pair wouldn't feature in Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test match.
Gambhir and especially Sehwag, who has had some lasting on-field memories with Tendulkar, will be battling to save his own career some 20 kms from the Wankhede Stadium.
For the 35-year-old Sehwag, who has scores of 7, 38, 1 and 15 in his last four first-class outings in the middle-order would like to get a big one in order to keep the national selectors interested in him as the Test team for South Africa will be decided in a few weeks' time.
Ditto for Gambhir, who has been doing all the hard work to get out in 30s and 40s. The left-hander would like to seal his place as the third opener in the South Africa bound squad as Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay are all but certain to board the flight to Johannesburg.
Delhi chief coach Sanjeev Sharma said that Sehwag wouldn't be given any suggestion about his batting order.
"Viru would bat where he wants to. There is simply no advice for him. If he feels he can contribute in the middle order, we are happy to have him at that slot. He is too good a player to remain out of form for a long time," Sharma said.
The Delhi has named their 12-member which has left-arm quick bowler Pawan Suyal in addition to the XI that played against Gujarat.
For Mumbai, it will be an opportunity for Dhawal Kulkarni to gear up for the West Indies one dayers having been recalled to the national side after nearly four and half years. Veteran Wasim Jaffer and youngsters like Kaustubh Pawar, Surya Yadav would like to get a good knock against the likes of Ashish Nehra, Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana.
While Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma, who are unlikely to feature in the playing XI, will, however, not be released for the state duty as pointed out by national team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"You don't want to release one player and then let other state associations say that why their players haven't been released," Dhoni said at the press conference on the eve of the second and final Test against the West Indies.