Daredevils look to build on the momentum

Delhi begin their home stretch with a tie against Kings XI Punjab today

Daredevils look to build on the momentum

Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab are two big underachievers of the Indian Premier League. Both have flattered to deceive in the last nine years and are yet to win the trophy.

The two, however, have made a promising start this year. Daredevils, in particular, are coming on the strength of an emphatic victory and would be eager to begin their home stretch with a flourish on Saturday.

Daredevils have been one team over the years that have sprung surprises at all stages of the contest. In the past, they have started with supreme authority, topped the league phase, before falling apart in the semifinals. They also have had seasons where they occupied the bottom place with embarrassing stubbornness. Rampant changes have been made in the squad since its inception, and that has had an effect too. However, under the captaincy of Zaheer Khan and mentoring of Rahul Dravid, Daredevils are finally looking to blossom. The franchise has actively invested in youth, and they are taking up the charge.

Sanju Samson, with a fine century against Rising Pune Supergiant, made a strong statement. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishab Pant has impressed as much with his determination as his attractive strokeplay. It is the opening combination of Aditya Tare and Sam Billings that hasn’t quite worked for the Daredevils, whose win-loss record has evened out after two outings.

Chris Morris has sparkled more with the bat than ball, but then Daredevils are not short of options in the bowling department. Zaheer leads the pack with his variations, with Pat Cummins providing the raw pace. With all-rounder Angelo Mathews also joining the squad, it has widened the seam options for Daredevils. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra has good record at Feroz Shah Kotla while left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem too has been economical.

Equally familiar with the conditions here is Kings XI Punjab’s chief of cricket operations, and local Virender Sehwag. He would have plenty of inputs for his side, that faced their first defeat in three matches in the away contest against Kolkata Knight Riders.

The twin wins of Kings XI had come while chasing. Against KKR, they were forced to defend after losing the toss. A shuffle in the batting order didn’t quite work and Kings XI’s limitations in attack were unbuttoned by KKR batsmen who comfortably chased down the total.

The strength of Kings XI, undoubtedly, is their strokemakers. Hashim Amla is in resplendent form as an opener and with Manan Vohra has provided strong starts. Captain Glenn Maxwell has impressed with his captaincy as much with his penchant for finishing the contest.

Much like Daredevils, Kings XI too have had their share of wooden spoons. Both understand the importance of seizing momentum early. There sure is an interesting battle on cards.
DH News Service

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