Delhi will virtually field a new-look team in the BCCI’s Twenty20 super league for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that will begin at the Wankhede Stadium and at the MCA’s Bandra-Kurla Complex Recreation Centre from Tuesday.
Of the five teams in the Mumbai leg (the second leg is at Rajkot), Delhi with an all-win record in the North Zone qualifiers at Chandigarh, has lost eight players to the Pepsi-IPL-VII as all the eight teams have decided to shift the preparatory camp to the United Arab Emirates where 20 matches will be played from April 16.
Delhi won five straight matches, thanks to some splendid batting by Gautam Gambhir (162 runs) and Virender Sehwag (180 runs) and also consistent bowling by Ishant Sharma and company.
Delhi will take the field against Kerala on Tuesday without Gambhir, Sehwag, Unmukt Chand, Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia, Parvinder Awana, Milind Kumar and Ishant Sharma. Delhi will be led by a fierce competitor and wicketkeeper-batsman Puneet Bisht.
The likes of Yogesh Nagar, Sunil Narwal and Vikas Mishra bring some experience, but others are effectively unknown to most teams, and in particular Kerala, which notched up shock wins against strong teams like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to progress to the super league for the second straight year.
Kerala, too, has lost much strength in the form of Sanju Samson, Sandeep Warrier and Prasanth Parameswaran and is looking forward to cause an upset against a side that’s been much weakened, but coach Chandrakant Pandit said it would be a challenge to plan and bowl to a new-look team.
“We know what the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag and Unmukt and others are capable of; it’s not the case with a new-look team.
“We don’t know much about them,” said Pandit, who read the riot act to his team after reverses against Goa and Hyderabad at the zonal league in Visakhapatnam.
“I told them that they should not get into the habit of losing, which I am not used to anyway. I told them they are a capable team.
“They beat Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to make it here. I was told to coach the team 10 days before the tournament,” said Pandit after his team’s training session on Monday morning.
Pandit is the Director of Cricket Academies, KCA.
The second match will be played at the BKC between Bengal and Baroda. Both teams entered the super league with a clean slate winning four zonal league matches.
Bengal will miss Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Ashoke Dinda and Veer Pratap Singh and Baroda will miss the Pathan brothers, Yusuf and Irfan.
India under-19 player Deepak Hooda will be available for selection for Baroda against Bengal and Delhi, but thereafter will be released for Rajasthan Royals’ IPL camp.