Lions' challenge for Daredevils

Lions' challenge for Daredevils

Zaheer-led Delhi look to maintain momentum against in-from Gujarat side

Lions' challenge for Daredevils

With each win Delhi Daredevils are building a new reputation for themselves.

They have racked up three victories on the trot, two of which have come at home, to emerge as the surprise pack of the IPL-9. With another home encounter on the cards, they will be keen to maintain their unbeaten run against the new franchise Gujarat Lions, who boast of an equally impressive graph.

Both the teams have incurred just one loss so far. Following their opening match defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders, Daredevils have been a transformed unit to collect six points from four matches. Gujarat have eight points from five matches, their sole loss coming against against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The two teams have been maintaining their places on the top half of the table and the contest on Wednesday would be an opportunity to further consolidate their positions.

Daredevils are fresh from their thrilling win against the Mumbai Indians four days ago. The young side is relishing the challenge and has risen to the occasion. If it was the red-hot form of Quinton de Kock, who gave the side impetus in the two chases, it was Sanju Samson’s matured innings against Mumbai, followed by JP Duminy’s finishing touches, that helped Daredevils put up a challenging total despite losing early wickets.
With bowlers joining the party, Daredevils became only the second team in this edition to defend a total. The background work of coach Paddy Upton and mentor Rahul Dravid is beginning to come together for the side, which was written off following its woeful past seasons and lack of star power in the ranks.

As a captain, Zaheer Khan, too, has been impressive. He has encouraged his bowlers to attack, has not shied away from putting up attacking fields, even for spinners, and has led by example. The year may have shaved off his speed but his craft with the new ball is still very much intact. Along with quick Chris Morris, who has been brilliant even with the old ball despite not getting many wickets, and a fit-again Mohammad Shami, Daredevils bowling has inspired confidence.

The best part of their attack is the variety. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir have been effective in the middle overs. But it is Mishra who has impressed the most with his ability to break partnerships.

And it is in bowling where Daredevils score over Suresh Raina-led side. With Dale Steyn still struggling to regain form, the onus is on Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni and James Faulkner but they have appeared a bit off-colour. Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo fill in the all-rounder's spot with Praveen Tambe providing additional option in leg-spin. The bowling, however, has been shuffled often and doesn’t look settled.

However, it is their batting line-up which makes Gujarat such a dangerous side. Packed with the likes of Aaron Finch, who with three half centuries is the leading scorer for his side, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, they have the potential to overwhelm the best attacks. The middle-order has been anchored with gumption by Raina and Dinesh Karthik with Dwayne Bravo ready to provide late blitz. They are fresh from their six-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore and would be looking to build on the momentum.  Resurgent Daredevils, however, wouldn’t make it any easier for them.