: Not withstanding the sound thrashing a full-strength Delhi received at the hands of Uttar Pradesh on Monday, coach Vijay Dahiya had reasons to look ahead with optimism on the eve of the Ranji Trophy league tie against Odisha at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here.

With Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma set to be part of the three-day preparatory camp in Mumbai ahead of the Test series against England, and Ashish Nehra not available, Delhi will be leaning on its ‘regulars’ to open its account in the competition.

“Now we have the team that is going to play through the competition, declared Dahiya, keeping the services of the ‘stars’ out of the equation due to their commitment to the National squad in the remainder of the season.

Odisha, without a win in its last 24 outings since beating Punjab by nine wickets at home in November 2008, can expect Delhi to come very hard at it.

“If we play to our potential, something we did not do against UP, we should come out stronger. Odisha has the potential to draw matches, if not beat most teams. If they get a chance, they can also be dangerous,” said Dahiya without a hint of taking a low-profile opposition like Odisha lightly.

Obviously, Delhi would like to settle for nothing less than a victory ahead of tougher matches in the league.

Fresh pitch

The fresh pitch, with a green cover, at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, should favour Delhi’s three-man pace attack.

Sumit Narwal, Pradeep Sangwan, Parvinder Awana and Pawan Suyal are the options for skipper Shikhar Dhawan who returns to the squad after getting married last week. He has shown good form this season despite missing out on a big score for Mumbai ‘A’ against England earlier this week.

Delhi, that awaits the return of Rajat Bhatia and Yogesh Nagar for the next match, has enough resources to encounter Odisha.

Barring Dhawan, the presence of Unmukt Chand, Mithun Manhas, Punit Bisht, Milind Kumar and Mohit Sharma are on the list of specialist batsmen in the squad.

Three youngsters – Vaibhav Rawal, Dhruv Shorey and Jagrit Anand – have been benched for the match. This reflects that Delhi is going all out for maximum points over the next four days.

Odisha that faced relegation to the Plate group following its poor showing in the last season was saved the ignominy due to the change in format. It collected a point from a formidable Tamil Nadu after bad weather forced a no-result in its opener at Cuttack.

“Effectively, this is our campaign-opener this season,” said coach Debashis Mohanty and continued, “We have no injury worries and the boys are eager to do well in all departments of the game.”

It will be interesting to see how the pace trio of Basant Mohanty, Alok Mangaraj and Deepak Behera use the conditions here and test the Delhi batsmen.

  • Odisha is without a win in its last 24 outings

  • The fresh pitch should favour Delhi’s pace attack

  • More In: SPORT | Today's Paper