'Pick and choose' the way to go

Khurram Habib

New Delhi, Nov. 17 -- With the Ranji Trophy schedule choc-a-block and the pacers picking up injuries as a result, a lot of them may be asked to go the Ashish Nehra way.

The Delhi pacer plays alternate Ranji Trophy games, as his body can't handle the rigours of back-to-back first-class games. There is just a three-day gap between two matches, probably not enough for recovery for pacers not blessed with a strong constitution.

Baroda coach Sanath Kumar, whose team will play Delhi in the Group B Ranji Trophy third round game at the Ferozshah Kotla from Saturday, said as much.

Way forward?

Asked if giving injury prone Munaf Patel - he hasn't played a single game until now owing to an injury - regular breaks could be the way forward, the coach said, "Yes, we may think of doing it. His knee tends to swell if he bowls too much," said Sanath, who will also miss Irfan Pathan for much of the season due to injury.

Baroda aren't the only ones feeling the pinch in this crucial round. Karnataka have opted to keep India pacemen Abhimanyu Mithun and R Vinay Kumar out of their Meerut tie against Uttar Pradesh as a precautionary measure. UP, too, are struggling on this front with injuries to Praveen Kumar and RP Singh.

"There is so much cricket happening. It's just the third round of the Ranji Trophy. We've already had the Duleep Trophy and there is more to come. In such scenario it is necessary to rotate players," said Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya, who has a battery of pacers to employ the rotation policy.

With Nehra back for this game, the axe will fall either on Parvinder Awana, Sumit Narwal or Pawan Suyal, unless Delhi decide to go in with four seamers on a batsman-friendly track. "Nehra can afford to miss games but bowlers like Awana and others, who are aspiring to play for India, cannot do that. That's where the team management comes into play," he added.

Baroda skipper Yusuf Pathan, too, will miss this game as he fractured his middle finger in the last match. For Delhi, Rajat Bhatia returns to the side. He may not go full throttle from the start but gives right balance as an all-rounder to the young side. Although hit by injuries, Irfan said the pace attack was still good.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.