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Delhi finished behind Karnataka in Group A with 27 points while MP with 3 wins, finished above Mumbai in Group C IANS & Devendra Bundela Facebook Page (File Photo)

Vijayawada’s Dr Gokaraju Liala Gangaaraju ACA Cricket Ground will make its Ranji debut as it is set to host Delhi and Madhya Pradesh (MP) in the second quarter-final of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18. Delhi finished behind Karnataka in Group A with 27 points while MP with 3 wins, finished above Mumbai in Group C.

Delhi vs Madhya Pradesh, Vijaywada

A change in guard bolstered Delhi’s fortunes, and it was unexpected. Ishant Sharma, the captain, rose to the occasion and propelled Delhi to quarter-final. Delhi were in the same group as Karnataka, which was why they finished second despite notching 3 wins and 27 points. Ishant picked 20 wickets at 12.8 and they found other bowling stars in left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and pacer Navdeep Saini, who claimed 24 wickets and 19 wickets respectively. Ishant will be sorely missed by his side in this crucial game.

Delhi also managed to find batting stars, who could guide at critical junctures. Gautam Gambhir continued to pile up runs (404 runs at 57.71). Nitish Rana, who made headlines for Mumbai Indians during the IPL, tops the batting charts with 466 runs at 72. Unlike the previous season, stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant has not set things on fire. His 99 against Maharashtra remains his only fifty-plus score this season. Last year, against the same side, Pant had slammed the record triple-century. Pant has scored 212 runs at a strike rate of 87.

MP had a good start to their season. They finished on top with same points as Mumbai (21) but had 3 wins to their name. MP, over the years, have relied heavily on team performances. The Devendra Bundela-led unit may lack the star power but they are a well-knit unit. Five of their batsmen average over 40 this season while Shubham Sharma averages 39.5. They have three bowlers who average less than 25 with leg-spinner Mihir Hirwani leading the charts with 25 scalps at 22.8. The ever-reliable Ishwar Pandey (20 wickets at 23.05) has found an able pace bowling partner in Puneet Datey, who has got 12 wickets this season at 24.33.

Harpreet Singh Bhatia has been MP s best batter with 444 runs at 55.50. Ankit Sharma, meanwhile, has played the role of an all-rounder aptly, claiming 17 wickets and registering 345 runs at over 49. Barring the 180 against Mumbai, Naman Ojha has not crossed fifty, but as we know, he has a penchant for making things count at bigger stages.

Delhi look a bit wobbly sans Ishant. In this knockout game, they will rely on their star batsmen to lead the charge. MP, meanwhile, will be unperturbed and will like to continue doing the good work as the debutant Vijayawada prepares for an evenly matched contest.

Ranji Trophy 2017-18, 1st Quarter-final Preview: Defending champions Gujarat ready for Bengal battle
Ranji Trophy 2017-18, 1st Quarter-final Preview: Defending champions Gujarat ready for Bengal battle

Squads:

Delhi: Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Aditya Kaushik, Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Nitish Rana, Dhruv Shorey, Milind Kumar, Himmat Singh, Manan Sharma, Vikas Mishra, Pulkit Narang, Navdeep Saini, Vikas Tokas, Kulwant Khejroliya, Kunal Chandela, Anuj Rawat, Lalit Yadav.

Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela(c), Naman Ojha (wk), Ankit Kushwah, Harpreet Singh, Ankit Sharma, Avesh Khan, Ankit Dane, Puneet Datey, Mihir Hirwani, Saransh Jain, Ankit Kushwah, Ishwar Pandey, Rajat Patidar, Chandrakant Sakure, Aditya Shrivastava, Anshul Tripathi, Waseem Ahmed.