The Delhi team will receive a boost in their Ranji Trophy campaign as India internationals, Ishant Sharma and opener Gautam Gambhir, are set to play for them against Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy match starting on Thursday at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Ishant was earlier ruled out of New Zealand Test series after he was down with Chikungunya and Gambhir was busy on a comeback trail in the Test squad in place of the out of form, Shikhar Dhawan.
"Ishant and Gambhir will be playing in this match," Delhi chief coach KP Bhaskar announced on Tuesday.
Ishant's fitness needs a reassessment before the England series. He was considered the spearhead of the Test attack until recently but Mohammad Shami and Bhuvaneswar Kumar have made a strong case in his absence in the series against the Black Caps.
Gambhir, meanwhile, will look to cement himself at the top of the order as the reserve opener in place of Shikhar Dhawan. Though Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay are almost certainly the first-choice openers, Gambhir holds an advantage over Dhawan as the next best choice.
Gambhir had a made a comeback to the Test side in the series against the Kiwis when he replaced Dhawan in the playing XI for the third Test at Indore, scoring a typical gritty second innings half century. He was playing a Test after more than two years, also getting to a first 50+ score since 2012.
In the Ranji, Delhi drew their last game against Maharashtra, although Maharashtra benefitted from a first innings lead to gain more points. The game was a shower of records with Maharashtra skipper Swapnil Gugale (351) and Ankit Bawne (254) adding 594 for the 3rd wicket, the second highest partnership in First-Class cricket.
Following the mammoth partnership, Delhi managed to break some records themselves as U19 star, Rishabh Pant went on to slam a triple-hundred, scoring 308. He became the second wicket-keeper in Ranji history to score a triple-hundred. Delhi were, however, bowled out for 590, thus falling 45 runs short of Maharashtra's first innings score. The first innings deficit resulted in lower points for Delhi. They had won their first game of the Ranji season against Assam.
With the return of Gambhir and Ishant to the fold, left-handed opener Mohit Sharma and seamer, Pawan Suyal may miss out. The duo will provide a much-needed impetus to a Delhi line-up short of experience. The duo will also get some game time under their belt before the squad for a visiting England side is announced.