Preview: Punjab look to continue rolling against lacklustre Delhi

Kings XI Punjab will aim to carry their winning streak AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Dharmasala: May 14, 2011

The Kings XI Punjab need a miracle. The Delhi Daredevils need to save their face. Punjab are on a two-match winning spree, Delhi have lost two in a row. If Punjab win this one, they will be two steps away from having a chance to make it to the playoffs. If Delhi win, it would do nothing to their chances in the tournament.

The two teams led by Australian skippers will travel to the cooler climes of Dharamasala to feature in the 60th of the 70th league games in this season s Indian Premier League.

Punjab were twice on the verge of extinction in this season s IPL; first when they took on the very powerful Mumbai Indians and then against the Kochi Tuskers chasing a near-180 score. On both the occasions, they broke the jail and escaped.

Now, they take on, what has become arguably the competition s one of the two weakest sides especially after the departure of Virender Sehwag which should allow them to move a step closer to creating magic. Punjab, who needed to win five games in a row to get to 16 points and in turn, leave them with a chance to qualify for the playoffs, have won two.

A potentially simpler game awaits them here, before they play Bangalore at the same venue.

The home team will be much relieved by the batting of Dinesh Karthik. For a middle-order that has seemed wobbly right through the tournament, Karthik s superb show at Indore would have injected some confidence into the middle.

With Adam Gilchrist struggling, Paul Valthaty getting into 20s and getting out and David Hussey having scored 61 runs in the six chances he s got at the crease, batting had been Punjab s big worry. Karthik seems to have reduced the headache.

The number of changes that Delhi make to their line-up each game speaks largely of their lack of cohesion. Changes, dime a dozen have undermined any kind of progress that the side looks to make, which in turn leads to another loss and the inevitable changes. The vicious circle has left the Daredevils crippled.

It has reflected in their points table as they have eight points from 12 games. With Morne Morkel s form also tapering off, the Daredevils have been left with a bunch of inexperienced or Indian-discards to lead the attack. That has not worked.

On paper, this seems to be a match between a team on some kind of a roll and another who looks battered enough to go beyond caring. With the only incentive for Delhi to try and not finish tenth in the group, they will need to fight hard. But one senses that Punjab will be much more powerful and should give their campaign in the tournament an extension.

Teams:

DD (Probable): Naman Ojha (wk), Dave Warner, Colin Ingram, Irfan Pathan, Venugopal Rao, James Hopes (c), Andrew McDonald, Yogesh Nagar, Ajit Agarkar, Shahbaz Nadeem, Varun Aaron.

KXIP (Probable): Adam Gilchrist (c&wk), Paul Valthaty, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Dinesh Karthik, Mandeep Singh, Bipul Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris, Bhargav Bhatt, Shalabh Srivastava.

Time: 16.00 local (10.30 GMT)

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