Chance for Delhi to seize pole

Chance for Delhi to seize pole

Sehwags men look to maintain momentum against Chargers

Delhi Daredevils have rediscovered their fangs. With only one loss in four outings, they have met some of the pre-season expectations and are steadily gaining reputation as a feared pack.

The team will be looking to perch atop the table when they meet 2009 champions Deccan Chargers at the Ferozeshah Kotla, on Thursday. Daredevils have been propped by the batting trinity of Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor, apart from skipper Virender Sehwag. Taylor proved his fitness with some superb fielding during their seven-wicket win against the Mumbai Indians, and in that context Daredevils are spoilt for choices.

 With fresh recruits bringing in the required depth and energy, Daredevils do not resemble the side that finished at the bottom of the table last season, and they are bustling with enthusiasm as a unit. While batting remains their strong point, it is Daredevils’ bowling and fielding which have been revelations in the last two matches.

They ran out four Chennai Super Kings batsmen during their home clash, and once again put up a sharp show on the field against the Mumbai Indians. The contest was marked by some spectacular saves and catches by Sehwag’s men.

Coming into the IPL V, apprehensions hovered around the Daredevils’ bowling attack, with only Morne Morkel appearing to be a potent force. However, the bowlers paved the way for the team’s victory against Mumbai.

Young Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem justified his captain’s faith in him to return with impressive figures of 2-16, good enough to fetch him the man of the match honours. Irfan Pathan (1-12) and Umesh Yadav (2-11) too turned on the heat with incisive spells and together they skittled Mumbai out for a paltry 92. If the bowlers could maintain this momentum, Daredevils would be the team to beat in the tournament.

Chargers are surely going to be wary of that fact. The former champions are not having the best of the time in this tournament, and are languishing at the bottom of the table with three defeats in a row. The Kumar Sangakkara-led side is still smarting under a heart-breaking five-wicket defeat to the irrepressible Rajasthan Royals. The Chargers will need to put the loss on the back-burner and look ahead.

They have the some big names in their batting line-up, with Sangakkara and Shikhar Dhawan putting up their highest first-wicket partnership of the season against Rajasthan, and Jean Paul Duminy and Daniel Christian chipping in with handsome contributions. It is the bowling, though, which has let Sangakkara down.

Barring speedster Dale Steyn and leggie Amit Mishra, there is little to look forward to in Chargers’ attack. Steyn, too, faced the music at the hands of Brad Hodge, who hit him for four consecutive boundaries, and ended up with the costliest figures for Chargers on Tuesday. He will need to regain his rhythm against another quality batting line-up on Thursday.

Local players, Mishra and Dhawan, can share useful insights on the Kotla track where they have honed their skills, but what the Chargers need is a collective effort.

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