PREVIEW: Fresh from two consecutive victories, a rejuvenated Delhi Daredevils (DD) will take on injury-ravaged Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) in their last group stage outing of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday.
With five wins out of seven games, the home side have reached a new momentum after registering consecutive wins against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Gujarat Lions to occupy the second spot in the team standings.
On the other hand, having lost key players like Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis and Mitchell Marsh, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Pune franchise have struggled to find the momentum going in their favour, managing only two wins from eight outings.
Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan. AFP
Unlike the previous seasons, the Daredevils have approached each game with a horses for courses approach, making the right changes under the watchful eyes of team mentor Rahul Dravid and coach Paddy Upton.
The credit for Delhi's turnaround also goes to skipper Zaheer Khan, who has managed to take early breakthroughs while opening the bowling and also at the death. The franchise's decision to invest in the youngsters has also borne fruit in the tournament so far.
Young Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson have been a revelation in the batting order while leg-spinner Amit Mishra and his left-arm partner Shahbaz Nadeem have been impressive in containing the rival batsmen and also picking up wickets at regular intervals.
The overseas players have also contributed to Delhi's success with South African keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock providing decent starts to the team. His Protea teammates — Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Chris Morris — have also played a pivotal role in the side's success.
West Indian hitman Carlos Braithwate, who was included for the match against KKR, enthralled the Delhi crowd with his all-round efforts — 34 from 11 balls and three wickets — to pocket the man of the match award.
On the other hand, with just six more matches to go in the league stage, Dhoni's brigade will have their task cut out for Thursday's game.
Left with very little to choose from, the team will bank on a good start from the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, George Bailey and Usman Khwaja, apart from Dhoni himself in the middle order.
Even if the batters have done a decent job, the Pune franchise have found it tough to defend with the bowling unit letting Dhoni down.
Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been a shadow of his previous self while pacer Ashok Dinda and Thisara Perera have been milked for runs by the opposition batters.
Updated Date: May 06, 2016 12:28 PM