Ranji Trophy: Table-toppers Delhi look for another win against Odisha
Despite Ishant Sharma's injury, Delhi have done well in the ongoing season.
Bhubaneswar: Looking to put the Kotla controversy behind, the Gautam Gambhir-led Delhi will try for another outright win against Odisha in their fifth Ranji Trophy cricket league match of the season here tomorrow.
Group A table-toppers Delhi had a forgettable outing at Feroz Shah Kotla in their previous encounter against Bengal when Gambhir nearly came to blows with rival skipper Manoj Tiwary and the on-field spat cost the two leaders a fine. While Gambhir was docked 70 per cent of his match fee - it was his second offence this season - Tiwary was let off with a 40 per cent cut.
After allegations and counter allegations the fight saw an end post Gambhir's statement, urging Tiwary to concentrate on his game rather than making false allegations of him abusing Bengalis and Sourav Ganguly. Delhi will now look for momentum before the knockouts, which almost looks a certainty, with 15 points from four games already in their kitty.
After conceding three points to Rajasthan in their opening game in Jaipur, Delhi outplayed Vidarbha to bag a bonus point. They claimed another outright victory against the Virender Sehwag-led Haryana but conceded three points to Bengal in their last outing.
The top-order comprising Unmukt Chand, Gambhir and Rishabh Pant has got runs under its belt but consistency is what it has lacked.
But whenever the top-order has disappointed the middle-order and lower-order rose to the occasion, which has been a big plus. The likes of Nitish Rana, Milind Kumar and Pradep Sangwan have chipped in whent it mattered.
The bowling also looked potent with Ishant Sharma leading the attack in games two and three but his absence did make a difference. Though left-arm spinner Manan Sharma has impressed with a few five-wicket hauls. Medium-pacers Sumit Narwal, Parwinder Awana and left-armer Pradeep Sangwan have also picked up wickets.
Gambhir's leadership has been top-class, and it's just that the Indian left-hander needs to keep his cool to avoid any more disciplinary breaches, which could result in him missing games.
Odisha, on the other hand, may not start as favourites in the four-day encounter, but they certainly have the players in their side to pose a few problems to Delhi on home turf.
Lying sixth in the table, Odisha, who have just 8 points from three games, had ordinary outings against VIdarbha and Maharashtra but came back well against Assam in their previous encounter to bag six points.
The Biplab Samantray-led side has some decent players in batsmen Natraj Behera and Govinda Podder and medium-pacer Basant Mohanty to name a few.