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Delhi out of first-choice pace-bowling options as injury list grows

"No pre-season camp, no proper training session, fast bowlers highly under-cooked," a Delhi cricket official says

File photo: Ishant Sharma has a side strain and missed Delhi's last game too  •  BCCI

File photo: Ishant Sharma has a side strain and missed Delhi's last game too  •  BCCI

Delhi are without their five premier quick bowlers - including Ishant Sharma and Navdeep Saini - mainly because of injuries, and, with Nitish Rana omitted, could well start as underdogs at Feroz Shah Kotla when they host Tamil Nadu in a Ranji Trophy Elite Group B game starting Tuesday.
Ishant, the senior in the fast-bowling group, has a side strain. Saini, who was in Bangladesh first with the India A side and then the senior side, has picked up an abdominal strain and is recovering at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Mayank Yadav, who made his first-class debut earlier this month, has torn his hamstring. Simarjeet Singh, Delhi's highest wicket-taker this season with five strikes, has a heel injury. And Pradeep Sangwan, the team captain last season, was dropped at the start of the current season.
As a result, the fast bowlers picked for the game against Tamil Nadu were left-arm quick Kuldip Yadav, the not-too-experienced Harshit Rana, and Pranshu Vijayran, the allrounder who made his debut in the previous game, who have all played one first-class game each.
"We don't have our main bowlers and that is definitely an issue but we would like to control the sessions," Abhay Sharma, the Delhi coach, said. "The youngsters who get opportunities should make full use of it."
To make things worse, Delhi's campaign is in a shambles. They lost their opening game of the season to Maharashtra in Pune, and then conceded the first-innings lead to Assam in Guwahati in a drawn game. They currently lie in seventh place on the eight-team Group B table with one point from two games.
Have Delhi been hurt by poor planning?
Rana, an IPL star with Kolkata Knight Riders, had an average of just over 40 for the last two Ranji seasons [2019-20 and 2021-22, with Covid-19 preventing the 2020-21 season from taking place], and was left out this season.
While DDCA members have largely been happy with that development, the feeling being that Rana is more focused on white-ball cricket, they haven't been too pleased with the perceived lack of foresight on the part of the selection committee led by Gagan Khoda.
"You had no pre-season camp, no proper training session, and fast bowlers were highly under-cooked," a senior DDCA official said. "There was no planning, no vision, and what has now happened is exactly what was supposed to happen without systems in place. Some of the pacers were unfit before the season."
Tamil Nadu aren't doing much better this season, and have just three points from two games and are only one spot above Delhi on the table. Delhi will, therefore, hope Dhruv Shorey (443 runs in four innings, with a 252 not out against Assam) continues to lead the batting charge, and the likes of Himmat Singh and captain Yash Dhull lift their games against Tamil Nadu.