Manoj Prabhakar, the newly-appointed Delhi coach, has set his sights on building the side into serious contenders for the Ranji Trophy. Despite supplying a regular stream of players to the national side, Delhi have struggled to shine in the premier domestic event, winning the competition only seven times in its 75-year history - a record that Prabhakar hopes improve.
"My goal is to prepare a team with a solid combination of seniors and juniors that can't be pushed for the next five years and who play three Ranji finals in the next four years," Prabhakar told Mail Today. "There was a time when playing for Delhi virtually meant that you have 50% chances of playing in the Indian team. I want to restore that belief among the players."
The last time Delhi won the Ranji Trophy was in 2007-08 when Prabhakar was the bowling coach. He has now been given a broader role by the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA). Many of Delhi's big names - Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma - will be away on intertnational duty, but Prabhakar was confident of building the team around younger talent.
"If Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are available, it'll be good as they will form the core of the team. We also have some bright youngsters like batsman Unmukt Chand, legspinner Vikas Mishra, and left-arm pacer Pawan Suyal. Even if they sit out, they would learn something from their seniors.
Prabhakar's first assignment will be the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament, with the North Zone leg set to commence on October 20. "Delhi are playing five of their seven matches at home and we can prepare pitches according to our strength. If we have pace-bowlers in good shape and form, we might go for green-top pitches, though it remains to be seen how sporting they would be," said Prabhakar, who was renowned for reverse swing during his playing days.