Traditional rivals Mumbai, Delhi square up

Published: Thursday, December 30, 2004, 20:33 [IST]
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Mumbai:Former champions Delhi hold a distinct edge over depleted hosts and holders Mumbai in their crucial and concluding Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group A match commencing at the Wankhede stadium here tomorrow.

Even without swashbuckler Virender Sehwag, who had a great 2004 in the longer version of the game at the highest level, Delhi look stronger on paper than Mumbai who arewithout Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Ajit Agarkar and the injured Sairaj Bahutule.

Tendulkar, now back in India along with Agarkar, has not played a single Ranji game for his home association this season and Mumbai have got used to playing without him.

But the same cannot be said about the absence of Kambli, Agarkar and Bahutule, who has led them ably this season.

Kambli is still on the sick list, Agarkar has decided to take a break, with Mumbai already into the semi-finals with a tally of 21 points, while Bahutule has not recovered from thehamstring pull he suffered against Karnataka last week.

Mumbai would be led by left arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni who played a major role in the victory over Karnataka along with his spin partner Ramesh Powar.

Delhi, with 12 points and needing at least two more to book a semi-final berth, possess a stronger batting line up, have a better new ball attack spearheaded by the fit-againAshish Nehra and have an astute leader in Ajay Jadeja.

Mumbai hold a slight advantage in playing at home, have two spinners - Kulkarni and Powar - to exploit a spinning track, but would obviously miss Bahutule as an effective lowerorder batsman and for his leg spin.

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