Having missed out on a golden opportunity to log full points in the opener, Delhi, sans senior stars Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma, will face Hyderabad in an away encounter of the Ranji Trophy from Tuesday.
Delhi failed to win outright in their opening group league match at home against Himachal Pradesh and Hyderabad were no better, having conceded first innings lead in both their matches.
However, Delhi will miss Gambhir more as they were always aware that Ishant was available for only one match as per BCCI's specific workload management programme.
Gambhir, who scored 44 and 49 in the opening game, is suffering from a shoulder niggle and had excused himself from this away encounter.
"It's always nice if an experienced player like Gautam is around. He will certainly be missed as he also guides the juniors. But at the same time, I would look at it as an opportunity where a junior player will get a chance to make a mark," Delhi coach Mithun Manhas told PTI today.
"There is still a bit of grass cover on the pitch and let's how it pans out tomorrow. We will take a call on the playing XI tomorrow," the coach said.
While the coach didn't reveal who will be Gambhir's replacement, it was learnt that Sarthak Ranjan is expected to open the innings along with Hiten Dalal.
While Hyderabad will not have pace spearhead Mohammed Siraj (on India A duty) in their ranks, Delhi's opening pair, with a collective experience of one first-class game, could be a worry for young captain Nitish Rana.
Rana and Himmat Singh will be aiming to come out all guns blazing against the likes of left-arm spinner Mehidy Hasan and pacer M Ravi Kiran before they also leave on national duty (for Emerging India in U-23 Asia Cup).
There could be a couple of more changes in the playing XI with Ishant being replaced by either Gaurav Kumar or Simarjeet Singh.
The two left-arm spinners Varun Sood and Vikas Mishra looked pedestrian on a helpful fourth day track at the Kotla.
With off-spinner Pulkit Narang in the squad, Rana might be tempted to drop one of the two slow left-arm orthodox from the playing XI.
Mumbai, Karnataka eye maiden win in tournament
Both Mumbai and Karnataka will be eyeing their first victory of this Ranji Trophy season when the two sides clash here from Tuesday in their Elite Group A match.
Mumbai drew the first game of this season against Railways in New Delhi, but more importantly they earned three crucial points as they took the first innings lead.
Same was the case with Karnataka, who grabbed three points after settling for a draw with Vidarbha at Nagpur after taking the first innings lead.
Mumbai, led by pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, have a strong batting line-up, despite the absence of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane or Prithvi Shaw, who are all on the national duty.
For Mumbai, a lot will depend on how their crisis man Siddesh Lad performs. Lad has been eyeing a national berth for a long while now and another good outing will only build his case.
Other regulars - Akhil Herwadkar, Surya Kumar Yadav, Jay Bitsa and experienced wicket-keeper and former skipper Aditya Tare - will have to play their roles to perfection.
Tare roared back to form with a 100 against Railways and would be keen to add more runs under his belt.
Even Shivam Dube is also scoring runs and Mumbai would be hoping that he gets another big knock tomorrow.
On the bowling front, Kulkarni has the support of pacer Tushar Deshpande, besides spinners Karsh Kothari and Shams Mulani. If both the spinners play, then medium-pacer Aakash Parkar is likely to sit out.
Karnataka, led by Vinay Kumar, also has strong players and they would also be keen to beat Mumbai on their home turf.
Matches between these two competitive sides have produced memorable moments in the past and another humdinger is expected.
Presently on the points table, Mumbai and Karnataka are in the eighth and ninth spots respectively, and a win would be handy for both the sides.
In the other matches of the Elite Group A starting Tuesday, Chhattisgarh take on Railways in Raipur, Gujarat clash with Saurashtra in Nadiad, while hosts Vidarbha will play against Baroda in Nagpur.
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