Preview: Kochi look to win return game against Delhi

Kochi Tuskers Kerala players in action during IPL4. AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

New Delhi: May 1, 2011

When you hear someone like Virender Sehwag say in a press conference that he batted responsibly in a game, then you know that the circumstances were probably some of the worst that the team would have encountered. And when the second highest-score after Sehwag’s 80 is a 31 from one of the opponents batsmen, you can be well aware that the conditions have not been the best for the batting side.

This is what happened in the game between Delhi and Kochi at the Nehru Stadium where the Daredevils knew that nothing short of a win would keep them in the hunt for a chance at the playoffs. Thanks to their captain, they pulled off a win.

Both teams, now with three wins from eight games, clash yet again in a return game that will be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla and the stakes remain the same a loss could further dent the teams chances to get to the last four stage. A win, on the other hand, will give them a reasonable chance in the second half of the league stage.

The track at Kochi was, at its best, a difficult wicket to bat on. Deliveries scooted through on occasions and there were others that carried through which left Sehwag’s 80 being worth much more than a century. In Mahela Jayawardene’s words, the bowlers had lost their focus in the second half of the inning and that is an understatement 46 came in Delhi’s first 10 overs and 111 in the next 10.

It was a surprise then, that on a track so conducive to bowling, Muthiah Muralitharan was left out of the playing eleven for that game.

On the other hand, the Daredevils will heave a mild sigh of relief. Irfan Pathan showed signs of returning back to form, Morne Morkel got a three-wicket haul while Ajit Agarkar justified his selection with a two for 23 in his four.

However, the most important development from Delhi’s point of view was the bowling of Roelof van der Merwe. Lacking in a spinner for most part of the tournament, van der Merwe picked up three wickets as well and was generally difficult to score off.

The Daredevils, having won the previous one, could keep playing the same eleven. That could be rather harsh on James Hopes, who had had a good couple of games before being given the axe.

On the other hand, Jayawardene could be looking at something much more than that cursory change in the eleven. A change in mentality is required, having lost three matches in a row.

Teams:

DD (Probable): Dave Warner, Virender Sehwag (c), Naman Ojha (wk), Venugopal Rao, Yogesh Nagar, Travis Birt, Irfan Pathan, Roelof van der Merwe, Morne Morkel, Ajit Agarkar, Umesh Yadav.

KTK (Probable): Brendon McCullum (wk), Michael Klinger, Mahela Jayawardene (c), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, B Akhil, R Vinay Kumar, M Muralitharan, S Sreesanth, RP Singh.

Time: 20.00 local (10.30 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)