Vidarbha’s resilient progress this season in the Ranji Trophy reminds one of Rajasthan’s eventful journey two years ago.
Rajasthan, backed by three experienced professionals and a bunch of young players, had climbed up the ladder to the Elite division before surprising everyone with a title-win.
This year, Vidarbha, which had perennially been a bottom-placed team in the Ranji Trophy, made the most of the new format to show its potential against some mighty sides in the competition.
The young team banked on the wealth of experience of the professional trio of captain Sairaj Bahutule, former India opener S.S. Das and middle order specialist Hemang Badani to make steady progress.
Vidarbha has played strategically throughout the season and gathered points from every outing, including its crucial outright wins over Haryana and Odisha. With 19 points from seven matches, Vidarbha, currently third in the standings, has a good chance to make it to the quarterfinals from Group B.
Bahutule was composed in his assessment. “We are treating this as another league match. We back ourselves and have done well as a unit.
“We don’t complicate things and take it as it comes. It pays to play within limitations,” said Bahutule.
Vidarbha will look forward to accomplish the task in its last group engagement against Delhi. An outright victory will be enough for Vidarbha to book a spot in the last eight. However, a first innings lead may leave some scope to ponder about the permutations and combinations.
In bright sunny conditions, the team will feel at home at the old VCA Stadium here.
Delhi, meanwhile, has shrugged off its inconsistency and seems ready for the challenge. Signs of revival were visible in the side’s fighting victory against Maharashtra at the Roshanara ground. It was a huge morale booster for captain Shikhar Dhawan, whose responsible unbeaten century guided the team home.
Delhi showed marked improvement as some of its youngsters made valuable contributions in the team’s second win this season.
“We have to go all out. Give our best. The pitch looks fine but we have to raise our game and try and win the contest. There is no other way out,” said Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya.
An outright result in its favour will provide Delhi, which is fourth with 17 points, a smooth passage to the knockout stage. If it manages three points through the first innings lead, then it has to wait for the results of other Group B matches.
The teams (from): Vidarbha: Sairaj Bahutule (captain), Hemang Badani, Faiz Fazal, S.S. Das, Shalabh Shrivastava, Akshay Wakhare, Gaurav Upadhyay, Sumit Ruikar, Ravi Thakur, Amol Ubarhande (w/k), Sandip Singh, Shrikant Wagh, Amol Jungade, Apoorva Wankhede, Akshay Kolar.
Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Unmukt Chand, Mohit Sharma, Mithun Manhas, Vaibhav Rawal, Rajat Bhatia, Punit Bist (w/k), Vikas Tokas, Sumit Narwal, Pradeep Sangwan, Pawan Suyal, Jagrit Anand, Varun Sood, Milind Kumar and Vikas Mishra.