Delhi look to maintain their dominance in the Indian Premier League season five when they take on Rajasthan Royals at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Sunday. The hosts have won their last two matches to take the top spot with six wins out of eight matches, while Rajasthan have four wins and four losses to their name. Delhi, led by Virender Sehwag who has returned to form by notching up a fifty in each of the last three matches, once again go into the contest with the favourites' tag.
Delhi’s confidence must be sky high after thrashing their metropolitan rivals Mumbai Indians by 37 runs on Friday. Following the win, they became the first team to win both the legs against a team this season. Their batting is the most formidable in the tournament with Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen scoring runs at will. Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who didn't do anything of note in the first few matches, is also back among runs with a fifty against Mumbai.
South African Morne Morkel, the current holder of the Purple Cap with 17 wickets in eight matches, has gone from strength to strength in this tournament and remains a puzzle for most batsmen. His new-ball partner Umesh Yadav is no less impressive. There will be no respite for the Rajasthan batsmen in the match even if they manage to get the better of the fast-bowling duo. Upcoming spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who has taken eight wickets with an economy rate of 6.34 so far, has foxed the best of batsmen with his guile and hasn't been afraid to open the bowling. In the match against Mumbai, it was he who sent back the dangerous pair of Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard off successive deliveries to make life easier for Delhi.
With six wins so far, leaders Delhi will surely be hot to handle for Rajasthan, who have lost their last two games.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan, despite a good start to their campaign under Rahul Dravid, have been off the boil in the last two matches, losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings. Rajasthan's main problem has been their bowling. Pankaj Singh, Siddharth Trivedi and Kevon Cooper hold no fear for the batsmen. Except veteran Aussie Brad Hogg, their bowling lacks quality, and against the mighty Delhi batsmen, it could prove decisive.
As far as their batting is concerned, there are fewer worries with Ajinkya Rahane - the current Orange Cap holder with 332 runs at 47.42 per innings - Owais Shah, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hodge and Dravid himself coming good in most matches. So the bare truth is that their batting has to fire to have any chance against a rolling band of Delhi.
If the hosts win on Sunday, they will be just one more win away from qualifying for the play-offs while a victory for Rajasthan will give them renewed hope to end the league stage among the top four teams.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Naman Ojha (wk), 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Yogesh Nagar, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Shahbaz Nadeem, 11 Ajit Agarkar
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Rahul Dravid (capt), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Owais Shah, 4 Ashok Menaria, 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Shreevats Goswami (wk), 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Kevin Cooper, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Ajit Chandila, 11 Pankaj Singh