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How the cookie crumbled for Delhi

Officials of the Delhi and District Cricket Association were preparing to host Baroda in the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy. Players were looking ahead to their quarter-final.

A batting line-up which didn’t show spine,a strategic blunder,a horrendous shot were among other reasons for the poor show

Officials of the Delhi and District Cricket Association were preparing to host Baroda in the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy. Players were looking ahead to their quarter-final. But unexpectedly,Delhi went into a tailspin and never recovered. They lost to Railways in the penultimate round,a game which they should have won going according to the strengths of the team on paper and the seamer-friendly wicket prepared. Then against Mumbai,when they needed a win,they conceded the first innings lead and their season came to an abrupt end.

Sportline recounts what ailed Delhi’s disastrous 2010-11 Ranji Trophy campaign,and through the gloom also spots a silver-lining.

Chop & Change Policy:
The selectors,with Chetan Chauhan at the helm,gave youngters — opening batsman Unmukt Chand and off-spinner Manoj Chauhan— a break at the right time. But they were also guilty of chopping and changing the squad in every other match,leaving some players disillusioned and others insecure.

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Delhi’s middle-order,consisting Gaurav Chabbra,Mayank Tehlan,Aditya Jain and Yogesh Nagar,weren’t given a long run. Chabbra was dropped for what the selectors called ‘attitude problem’ but was brought back in to the squad for the rest of the game.

Ankur Julka was replaced by Mohit Sharma and then Sharma was replaced by Julka as some pointless decisions were taken by the core selection group.

Coach Manoj Prabhakar too added to the chaos. Delhi used four different bowling combinations in the first five matches covering five fast bowlers and two spinners.

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No clarity on fitness:
Left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra pulled out of the do-or-die match against Mumbai citing a calf strain but two days later played a Delhi under-19 match. Yogesh Nagar pulled out on the morning of the match against Railways citing a stomach bug. Medium pacer Parvinder Awana’s fitness levels were a mystery right through the season. Delhi’s best bowler last season,Awana,was dropped from the squad citing injury but kept bowling in the nets. Recalled for the final game against Mumbai,Awana lasted just seven overs after a back injury laid him low.

Dhawan’s pull shot:
If there is one moment which could be termed as a turning point in Delhi’s fortunes nosediving it has to be Shikhar Dhawan’s reckless pull against Railways’ Anureet Singh when Delhi were chasing a modest target of 136.

The blame must be apportioned to Dhawan because as stand-in skipper for that game he should have played with greater responsibility. Dhawan’s early dismissal rekindled Railways’ hopes and the fragile middle-order caved in.

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Late declaration:
What in the world was Mithun Manhas thinking?
Even after taking a 325-run lead against Gujarat,Delhi refused to declare. It hurt the team,though it allowed Yogesh Nagar,who showed no urgency at the wicket,to cross the 150-run mark.

The blunder probably struck the Delhi camp only when Gujarat held on for a draw with one wicket in hand as Delhi ran out of time as poor light and rain curtailed play.

Skipper speak
“We were so close to qualifying. It’s been couple of days since we were knocked out but I still can’t believe we didn’t make the knockouts. Only if we had won that game against Railways. Our batting came a cropper.”
Mithun Manhas

Player of the season:Sumit Narwal for his all-round show. He picked up 30 wickets from six matches,including seven wickets in a row against Railways. Against Railways he almost took the team to the doorstep of victory and in the opener against Bengal,Narwal’s knock helped in the team taking the first innings lead.

Find of the season:Unmukt Chand,the 17-year opening batsman,who was fast-tracked by the selectors into the squad for the third game against Gujarat. With 400 runs from five matches,including a masterly 150-plus score against Railways,the youngster stole the limelight.

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Flop of the season:Quite a few contenders but wicketkeeper batsman Punit Bisht is a runaway choice for aggregating 130 runs in nine innings.

First published on: 21-12-2010 at 04:51:38 am
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