Both on and off the field, seldom has Delhi appeared so desperate and dismal in the middle of its Ranji Trophy campaign.
Just four points from three matches, with the cream of the batting away on National duty and chief pace bowlers on the casualty list, the depleted side is placed sixth in the seven-team Elite group ‘B'.
Ahead of the clash against group-topper Baroda, efforts to get the services of Ishant Sharma proved futile after the lanky bowler excused himself in order to rest his ankle. Delhi's woes were compounded on the eve of the match with a strained groin putting left-arm seamer Pradeep Sangwan out of the playing eleven.
With medium pacers Sumit Narwal and Pawan Suyal already on the injury list, the Delhi selectors have chosen to blood young all-rounder Sunny Sehrawat on Tuesday. Rajat Bhatia is back after missing the previous match.
Skipper Mithin Manhas puts up a brave face but knows full well the potential, rather the lack of it, of the available resources. “Unlike other teams, Delhi has less number of experienced players as compared to the youngsters. Therefore, it is important for the younger members to make the most of the opportunities they are getting in the absence of seniors.”
So far, the collective effort of the host has proved inadequate.
Baroda, under Pinal Shah, is here after being softened-up by a resurgent Haryana which took three points in the previous round. With eight points from three encounters, Baroda looks far better placed in the qualifying race for the knockout phase.
With Yusuf Pathan out of action due to a knee-injury, Pinal expects Shatrunjay Gaekwad to make the opportunity count. Similarly, medium pacer Abhijit Karambelkar comes in for an injured Murtaja Vohara, who took five wickets against Haryana.
The pitch looks deceptively green but it remains to be seen if the grass is retained. With Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan on view, it will be interesting to see how the two discarded left-arm seamers, fighting injuries, perform on this surface.
Clearly, Delhi has more at stake in its last home match.
The teams (from):
Delhi: Mithun Manhas (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Unmukt Chand, Milind Kumar, Rajat Bhatia, Yogesh Nagar, Puneet Bisht, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Parvinder Awana, Vikas Mishra, Sunny Sehrawat, Ankur Julka and Mohit Sharma.
Baroda: Pinal Shah (captain) Irfan Pathan, Ambati Rayadu, Bhargav Bhatt, Kedar Devdhar, Shatrunjay Gaekwad, Aditya Waghmode, Rakesh Solanki, Anupam, Sankalp Vohra, Sunit Singh, Firdaush Bhaja, Swapnil Singh, Utkarsh Patel and Abhijit Karambelkar .