Navdeep Saini may have scored the winning runs for Delhi in their Ranji Trophy Group A match against Uttar Pradesh, but Unmukt Chand, Nitish Rana and Milind Kumar laid the foundation. KP Bhaskar looked delighted with the performance and who can blame him. It was a victory that Delhi earned while batting against the UP bowlers, fading light and time. Unmukt, who has not been able to score too many runs so far in the season made 49 runs and, more importantly, forged a 71-run partnership with Rana. UP pacers Ankit Rajpoot and Imtiaz Ahmed made the going tough for them throughout the final session but Rana’s knock of 67 runs slowly took the game away from visitors’ hands. With the fear of losing another close game hanging over them, Delhi shifted gears and scored 17 runs in the last two overs. With this win, Delhi moved to second spot in Group A. IndianExpress.com sat down with Bhaskar to discuss the season so far.
On Ishant Sharma’s captaincy
You have to understand that he is 77 Tests old and he has seen captains from close quarters. So anybody who has played that many Test matches, he is bound to have experience and he is a thinking bowler. I have always felt that if you have to win such kind of games then you have to take 20 wickets. Mostly we have batsmen who become captains. I personally feel that ‘why can’t we have a bowling captain’, who because of those 20 wickets is probably in a better condition to get strategies formed for those wickets. Once (Gautam) Gambhir declined, Ishant was the right choice and that’s what is happening. We can see this in the games against Assam, Railways and UP where we have managed to get 20 wickets, which we struggled last year. So you only win when you take 20 wickets and from a bowlers perspective, when you have your field placement and strategies then it becomes easier.
In Ishant’s absence
Selectors have added Sudan to the 15-member squad. He has played a couple of ODIs and possibly he could be replacing Ishant. And we have gone with Lalit Yadav and I think Pulkit has been dropped. Selectors have shown great faith in him and he is good with the bat. Being an all-rounder he gives us depth in batting and that’s what we are hoping. However, Ishant will be missed. Not only as a bowler but as a captain too. Rishabh Pant, being his deputy, will be leading the team. We are hoping that in case he is not played in 11 (for India) then he might join us for the game against Maharashtra. But my opinion would be to play in 11 for India and get wickets for the country.
On four-wicket win over UP
Good victory! We didn’t make a heavy weather in the end. It was a good comeback especially after conceding the first innings late. Unmukt Chand, Dhruv (Shorey) and (Nitish) Rana played really well and towards the end, promoting Navdeep Saini up the order helped. What was happening was that we didn’t want to lose wickets, and we were hoping that Rishabh Pant will finish the job for us. And once he got out there was a bit of worry and we knew the game would not go beyond 4:45 PM so the thought of the Assam game was flashing in our mind. And at that time we needed someone and take some big blows and get some boundaries. When Rana and Chand were batting, we discussed to keep the left-right hand combination. Thus Milind was promoted and incase Rana had got out then we would have had promoted Pant up the order.
On Unmukt Chand’s knock
Unmkut needs to get the confidence back and I’m sure today’s innings will do a lot of good for him. We are hoping that in the coming games, he would come good. He is young and is not over the hill and our worry is from last year is that we haven’t had a single hundred-run in the opening slot. Even though Gambhir is in tremendous form, and batting beautifully but somehow the opening partnership is not coming up. Thus we are hoping that Chand coming into form then this issue will be taken care of.
Navdeep Saini’s growth
Navdeep Saini is a much better bowler compared to that of last year. He is much experienced after playing for India A and he is on the verge of playing for India. He is much quicker, sharper and is able to generate a lot of bounce. He is a much-improved product now. Unfortunately, we are missing Sangwan and I am hoping he will join us in the last two games.