Delhi take on Tamil Nadu in battle of equals

New Delhi: Two teams with matching firepower will come face to face when hosts Delhi take on an impressive Tamil Nadu in what promises to be a battle of equals in a fourth round Ranji Trophy Group B encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground starting on Saturday.

Both Delhi and Tamil Nadu have eight points each after third round of matches but the hosts are placed second on the points table on account of a better net run-rate while Tamil Nadu occupy the third spot.

The two sides match up pretty well as both boast of an impressive batting and bowling line-ups which promises an engrossing four-day tie.

Having lost their first match against Uttar Pradesh with a full-strength side, a relatively younger side led by Shikhar Dhawan made amends against minnows Odisha by pocketing seven points.

However, their last match against Baroda ended in a barren draw with both teams getting a point each after the hosts were unable to surpass the visitors` first innings total of 561.

Delhi`s listless bowling display against Baroda raised many eyebrows as they conceded runs in excess of 500 with only Parvinder Awana making a statement with a four-wicket haul.

However, the home side can take a lot of heart from the fact that senior batsman Mithun Manhas and all-rounder Rajat Bhatia scored contrasting centuries while replying to Baroda`s first innings total. Almost all Delhi batsmen came good in that tie with talented Unmukt Chand and Mohit Sharma also striking rich form.

For Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya, veteran pacer Ashish Nehra`s fitness remains a major concern.

"Nehra is not 100 per cent fit. He is 90 per cent fit but not match fit. We will take a call on him tomorrow," Dahiya told reporters here.

Dahiya said for the match against Tamil Nadu he would like to have a pitch that offer plenty of assistance to the fast bowlers.

"We have asked for two pitches. We want the fastest of the two going into tomorrow's game to assist our pacers," he said.

"Tamil Nadu is a very good side and it's going to be an good match with both teams looking for a win," he added.

Last year's finalists Tamil Nadu, on the otherhand, might miss the services of their regular opener Murali Vijay, who is currently on national duty for the second Test against England which started in Mumbai today. However, the right-hander is not a part of the playing eleven.

If Vijay is not released by the team management ahead of tomorrow's tie against Delhi, then visitors may well go ahead with Arun Karthik to partner Abhinav Mukund at the top.

Promising youngster Baba Aprajith has been in great form and he, along with Dinesh Karthik, Mukund, S Badrinath and few others, could turn the strategies of Delhi bowlers upside down.

Tamil Nadu possesses a balanced team as their bowling department is still strong despite the absence of
Ravichandran Ashwin, who is on national duty in Mumbai.
Their bowling attack will be led by skipper Lakshmipathy Balaji, to be assisted by Vijaykumar Yo Mahesh, Jagannathan Kaushik and left-arm spinner Raju Kaushik Srinivas.

Tamil Nadu, which won their last match against Maharashtra by 104 runs, would like to make amends for their poor show with the bat as, in both the innings, they failed to breach the 300-mark barrier.

Their bowlers made up for the batting failure by dismissing the opponents for a paltry 88 runs in their second innings to set up an outright victory.
Coach V B Chandrasekhar said, "We will play to our potential. We have an experienced side and are looking forward to have a good match. There are no injury issues."