New Delhi: Virender Sehwag’s flamboyance will be put to test against Gautam Gambhir’s gumption when leaders Delhi Daredevils take on second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in a top-of-the-table clash in Indian Premier League here today.
Only a single point separates the two teams. While Delhi Daredevils have 16 points from 10 matches with eight wins, KKR aren’t far behind with 15 points from 11 encounters with seven wins.
On paper, the Daredevils are a slightly better side with a formidable batting line-up and a balanced bowling attack while KKR have relied more on individual performances from skipper Gambhir and mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine.
The batting depth of the Daredevils can be gauged by the fact that although someone like Kevin Pietersen is back in England to join the national team, the Delhi outfit has another match-winner in David Warner joining their ranks.
While the Daredevils come into the match after a four-day break which may have helped the players recharge their batteries, KKR will be riding high after their inspiring seven-run win in the prestige match against the Sourav Ganguly-led Pune Warriors yesterday.
Both the sides are all but assured of a place in the knock-out stages, but a victory in the marquee clash will not only bolster the confidence but also help them consolidate their position at the top.
Both Gambhir and Sehwag know that very well and would be ready to put in those extra yards to log full points tomorrow.
Having been involved in numerous match-winning partnership for their national, state as well as IPL teams, the two Delhi openers have done admirably well in leading their respective sides in this edition of the T20 event.
Both have led from the front making significant contributions with the bat. While Gambhir has scored 421 runs in 10 matches with five fifties, Sehwag is second in the list of run-scorers with 445 runs from equal number of games.
While Sehwag has been at his marauding best, Gambhir’s knocks have been focus and concentration personified.
As far as the team composition is concerned, the Daredevils will certainly have Warner straightaway coming into the playing XI in place of Pietersen but there would certainly be some debate about the fourth foreigner’s slot.
Ross Taylor, by his own admission is out of form having managed only 91 runs from seven matches, and the Daredevils management may be tempted to pitchfork West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell in the thick of things.
Not only is Russell a capable seamer, he is also a very handy batsman. The rest of the team selects itself.
KKR’s main worry has been the form of their international batsmen. While Gambhir has been in sparkling touch, the same can’t be said about T20 specialist Yusuf Pathan who has been one of the biggest disappointments of IPL V.
Even a promotion in batting-order hasn’t been able to arrest his slump in form. It will be interesting to see whether Gambhir decides to persist with Pathan after the latter scored only 59 runs in nine innings so far.
Similarly, Manoj Tiwary who has had a quiet IPL by his standards would like to replicate his performance at the Kotla during the last edition of IPL when he was awarded the Man-of-the-Match against the Daredevils.
Among the KKR bowlers, West Indian off-spinner Narine has been a surprise package. Even Rajat Bhatia’s slower balls have been very effective and being a local boy, his knowledge of the conditions here will be more than handy for the visitors.
In all, there is each and every ingredient which is required to produce a thriller.