Bengaluru, November 8: This is a match-up with no underdogs. Karnataka and Delhi have been in excellent touch in the initial phase of this season's Ranji Trophy and occupy the first two slots in Group A.
Karnataka have brushed aside Assam, Hyderabad and Maharashtra, while Delhi have drawn Assam and defeated Railways and Uttar Pradesh.
Nothing less than a hot contest could be in the offing when they take on each other at Alur from Thursday (November 9).
Karnataka have not taken a single wrong step so far despite their premier stars being absent at various stages due to national duty. But true to their depth in the bench, the hosts hurdled over those minor blocks with ease. In fact, thus far they have not encountered one of those 'oh-if-he-was-there' moments.
Mayank Agarwal's triple hundred against Mahrashtra at Pune was a primary example of this.
In any case, KL Rahul and Manish Pandey have returned for the clash against Delhi and the team management has released D Nischal and Sharath Srinivas. They will join the Karnataka squad for the Col CK Nayudu Trophy match against Baroda.
In bowling, skipper R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun have been as effective as ever while spinners K Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal, though he was benched against Maharashtra, have chipped in with important breakthroughs.
For this match too, pacer S Arvind has been rested as part of the team's rotation policy and the left-armer could return for the match against UP at Kanpur.
Delhi, on the other hand, have offered something totally unexpected. Last season, their house was on fire.
Then skipper Gautam Gambhir and coach Bhaskar Pillai were not on the same page and there were stories of the duo engaging in bitter war of words.
Now, Gambhir has stepped down from the hot seat, giving the reins to Ishant Sharma and the pacer has managed to take eleven men in the same boat.
This could be the sternest Delhi could face this season and they need all those skills and unity to blunt Karnataka.