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‘Red carpet’ rolled out for Manhas & Co

The pitch isn't the only obstacle to overcome for the players.

On the eve of Delhi’s Ranji trophy encounter with Gujarat,several players from the visiting side were rather keen to get a close look of Sardar Patel Stadium pitch in Valsad,that is spoken of in reverential terms across the domestic circuit. The tinge of green has come and gone from season to season on the 22-yard ‘red carpet’,but the red soil too unfailingly generates the steep bounce that makes games an interesting one.

The pitch isn’t the only obstacle to overcome for the players. Plenty of buildings around the stadium bear blackened facades — a symptom of the corrosion wrought by a gusty sea breeze that consequently offers prodigious swing to the pacers. The combination of bounce and swing delights the quicks and forces batsmen to rely on solid backfoot play. Spinners also tend to get turn by the second half of the game,keeping every facet of cricket in the picture.

While it may not make for home advantage,Valsad presents Gujarat with one opportunity — matches here are known to provide outright victories. And against a weakened Delhi side,Parthiv Patel’s side could well exploit their weaknesses on ‘home turf’.

Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas and Delhi coach Sanjeev Sharma spent a considerable amount of time inspecting the health of the Valsad pitch. They hung around together in the evening,probably wondering what their best suited final XI would be.

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The only player almost certain of playing Thursday’s game is Manoj Chauhan. The young off-spinner,who was found overage in an U-19 tournament,will in all probability replace Mohit Sharma in the squad.

Gujarat too are considering making a few changes,with Avi Barot,a young batsman who scored a double hundred in U-22,the likeliest contender to boost their batting line-up.

First published on: 10-11-2011 at 12:51:38 am
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