Yash Dhull to miss Ranji clash as Delhi brace for Mumbai juggernaut

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Delhi skipper Yash Dhull will miss the much-anticipated Ranji Trophy clash against Mumbai owing to fever. The Indian Express has learned that the U-19 World Cup winning captain was absent for the team’s last two training sessions ahead of the match starting on Tuesday at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. The Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) confirmed on Monday that Nitish Rana will replace him in the lineup. Interestingly, Delhi had opted to sit Rana out earlier because of disciplinary issues.

In Dhull’s absence, middle-order batsman Himmat Singh, who scored a ton against Andhra in the previous game, will lead Delhi while opener Dhruv Shorey will be his deputy. Himmat had been dropped from the XI in the game against Saurashtra, a decision which didn’t go well as the think-tank came under scrutiny following a humiliating innings-and-214-run defeat.

Dhull had been appointed Delhi skipper ahead of the 2022-23 Ranji season, one that hasn’t panned out in the best way for the team as well as the player. Delhi currently sit seventh in the eight-team Group B, holding five points after five games. In his eight innings so far, Dhull has procured just 189 runs at an average of 23.62 with only one half-century, against Maharashtra in Delhi’s season-opener.

Shorey the anomaly

The beacon of hope for Delhi in an otherwise hazy season has been opener Dhruv Shorey, who has amassed 787 runs, the most by any batsman so far. Even in the last game at home against Andhra, Shorey looked in fine nick as he scored 185 to help Delhi bag the first-innings lead and three points.

The 30-year-old has hit a double-century, two hundreds and two fifties. At Delhi’s home ground in Kotla, Shorey has scored fifty or more runs in each of his three innings thus far. Such has been his form that the opener has been eyeing a triple-figure score everytime he walks out to bat.

“Shatak toh shatak hota hai (A century is a century after all),” Shorey had remarked after making 252 and 150, both unbeaten, against Assam in Delhi’s second game. “It is what we go out looking to score.”

However, for the rest of the Delhi batsmen, matching Shorey’s level of consistency has been a hard task.

“It’s just a matter of partnerships,” Shorey had said on Delhi’s batting shortcomings earlier during the season. “You need to spend time in the middle. We had this conversation that we need to spend time inside and runs will come.”

Delhi have found it tough to stick by Shorey’s mantra, especially in his absence in the middle, as just one of their only five hundred-plus stands this season has come without him.

Mumbai batting juggernaut

The visitors, on the other hand, have one of the red-hot batting line-ups to flex, powered by the likes of Prithvi Shaw, who scored the second-highest individual score in Ranji Trophy history last week against Assam, falling just 21 short of 400.

Accompanying him in the middle was Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 191, his second hundred of the season. Despite the India Test side giving him the cold shoulder, no team in the domestic circuit wouldn’t want to have Sarfaraz Khan in their batting line-up. Since the 2019-20 season, the 25-year-old has scored 2,341 runs in 25 innings for Mumbai at a mind-boggling average of 130.05, with nine hundreds, including two double-hundreds, and a triple-century.

While Yashasvi Jaiswal will have to sit out yet another game, having not featured against Assam owing to ‘acute gastroenteritis’, Mumbai’s batsmen will still fancy themselves against a second-string Delhi bowling attack. Delhi’s bowlers have accounted for only 48 wickets in five games so far, the seventh-lowest this season.

A fourth win in six games will do it nicely for second-placed Mumbai, who are three points behind Saurashtra in Group B, to solidify their quarter-final case. A win is what Delhi are yet to find this season, and even if they do, it won’t help them book a ticket to the knockouts.

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