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Fancied Delhi face MP in Ranji quarterfinals

Mulapadu (AP), Dec 6 (PTI) Former champions Delhi will fancy their chances when they take on Madhya Pradesh in their quarterfinal match of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament beginning here tomorrow.

Delhi remained unbeaten in the group phase and qualified for the quarterfinals as the runner-up side from Group A with 27 points from three wins and three draws.

They narrowly missed out on a win under controversial circumstances in their season opener against Assam but then went on to pick up three victories, two of them with bonus points.

After Gautam Gambhir refused to take up the captain's mantle, pacer Ishant Sharma was handed the job and he performed his role quite admirably, leading from the front and helping Delhi pick up 20 wickets in all four matches he skippered. That made a big difference in the team's performance.

Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant took the captain's role after Ishant was called for national duty.

Though Pant is yet to produce the kind of match-winning performances that is expected of him, Delhi have been doing well in the batting front.

Gambhir has been in good touch at the top of the order, notching up two centuries and falling narrowly short of a third. Delhi's batting has been built around the veteran opener, with youngsters such as Nitish Rana too scoring the bulk of runs.

The prolific Rana is the top-scorer this season with 466 runs, which include two centuries.

The bowling has been shouldered by the likes of Vikas Mishra, Navdeep Saini and Manan Sharma.

One area of concern for Delhi has been the failure of both the openers to fire together on most occasions and they would look to change this aspect against Madhya Pradesh, who have come into the match as Group C toppers with 21 points (3 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses).

The Naman Ojha-led MP side is also dealing with issue of poor show by the openers and it is worse than Delhi, with 72- run being their best opening stand. Their trademark feature this season has been the resilience shown by the middle and lower-order batsmen after the loss of early wickets.

With 444 runs so far, Harpreet Singh, MP's leading run- scorer this season, led the side's counterattack against Tamil Nadu with an unbeaten 100 that helped his team salvage a draw.

MP's bowling attack revolved around leg-spinner Mihir Hirwani (25 wickets) and all-rounder Ankit Sharma (17 wickets)

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