Wounded by their six-wicket loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening tie of the tournament, the Delhi Daredevils will look to earn their first points when they host Rajasthan Royals at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday.
When Mahela Jayawardene opens his eyes on match day, he will hope to see a fit Virender Sehwag in front of him. Sehwag missed Delhi’s first match of the season against Kolkata due to back injury and he was clearly missed at the top of the order.
Apart from fitting Sehwag back into the line-up, Jayawardene will also count on his middle-order batsmen to chip in with valuable runs. The first game saw Jayawardene stranded at the other end with wickets falling like nine pins. Eight batsmen were dismissed for single-digit scores in Delhi’s modest total of 128.
Unmukt Chand, who scored two back-to-back tons in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, will look to shrug off his first-ball dismissal against KKR and form a good partnership with Sehwag early on. If Sehwag fails to regain fitness before the game, the onus of performance at the top-order could fall on the shoulders of Australia’s David Warner.
In the bowling department, ShahbazNadeemseems to be carrying his form from the previous edition of the IPL as he bowled well for his two for 22 against Kolkata. Jayawardene will turn to his fast-bowling trio of AshishNehra, Umesh Yadav andIrfanPathan to restrict the Rajasthan batsmen from scoring freely.
If Sehwag is declared fit, it is most likely that ManpreetJuneja will make way for him, unless Chand is dropped on the basis of the first game.
As for the Rajasthan Royals, they will deal with lesser pressure on Saturday. The Rahul Dravid-led side continued to invest in strengthening their Indian player pool and have snapped up a few who have done well in the recently concluded domestic season. The likes of Sachin Baby, Harmeet Singh and Rahul Shukla will provide ample cover for Indian names in the team sheet.
Dravid will be delighted by the availability of Australia’s Shane Watson who tends to display prolific form in this format of the game. Watson had missed around eight to nine matches in the previous edition of the IPL and his availability from the first game this year could hand Rajasthan Royals a good start.
Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane will form a formidable opening pair at the top, with the experience of Shane Watson to follow. Shreevats Goswami can also be a good option in the middle-order. New recruit KusalPerera could feature alongside England’s Owais Shah, who played a couple of handy knocks last year. They could also opt for the 22-year-old all-rounder James Faulkner.
Rajasthan’s bowling department is filled with Indian bowlers who have done well in the last few seasons. The likes of Siddharth Trivedi,Amit Singh and Ashok Menaria have been consistent in the past. With Harmeet Singh added to the ranks, the Royals could face selection headache ahead of the tie. They also have S Sreesanth, who is on his comeback trail.
The Royals, despite winning the first season of the tournament, are the perennial underdogs of IPL. Yet, they are fully capable of piling on the misery on Jayawardene’s side.
Delhi on the other hand, will go all out for a win to kick-start their season. Given that they have been a side who have consistently done well in the league stages, it would be foolish to write them off.
Delhi Daredevils (Probable): David Warner, VirenderSehwag,UnmuktChand, Johan Botha, MahelaJayawardene (c),NamanOjha (wk), Andre Russell, IrfanPathan, ShahbazNadeem,UmeshYadav, AshishNehra.
Rajasthan Royals (Probable): Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid (c), Shane Watson, Owais Shah, James Faulkner, DishantYagnik, Harmeet Singh, Brad Hogg, S Sreesanth, Amit Singh, Siddharth Trivedi.
Time:16.00 IST | 10.30 GMT
(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is an Editorial consultant atCricketCountry and a sports fanatic, with a soft corner for cricket. After studying journalism for two years, came the first big high in his professional life – the opportunity to interview his hero Adam Gilchrist and talking about his magnificent 149 in the 2007 World Cup final. While not following cricket, he is busy rooting for Chelsea FC)