Durban: Riding on its batting prowess, Delhi Daredevils would look to consolidate their position in the points table when they take on a demoralised but unpredictable Auckland Aces in a crucial Group A match of the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament here on Friday. But it won't be easy for the Daredevils as they will find it hard to keep the momentum going after a long gap from the playing arena.
The Delhi outfit last played four days ago when they beat reigning IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders in their tournament opener and since then they have remained out of action. To make matters worse for Delhi, the Aucklanders will approach the match as wounded tigers and will be desperate to return to winning ways after having lost to Titans in their previous game last night.
But all said and done, the Daredevils have the potential to turn any game on its head riding on the quality of their batting department. In skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor, Delhi outfit possesses a top-order which can tear apart any bowling attack in any condition. Young Unmukt Chand is also a welcome addition to Delhi's already powerful batting line-up as the right-hander is capable of adapting to the requirements of the team.
Delhi Daredevils would look to consolidate their position in the points table against Aces.
Delhi's bowling attack is equally dangerous. In Irfan Pathan, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Ajit Agarkar, the IPL team has a strong pace attack, which will find the bouncy South African conditions to their liking. In fact, Delhi's pace quartet has already made their intentions clear during their defence of 160 runs against KKR the other day. While Pathan, Morkel and Yadav scalped two wickets apiece, Agarkar picked up one to derail KKR's chase.
Auckland, on the other hand, had mixed result so far in the main round. After annihilating KKR by seven wickets in the first game, the New Zealand team lost to Titans by 59 runs on Wednesday. The Gareth Hopkins-led team would be desperate to get their campaign back on track against Delhi on Friday. Till Wednesday, Auckland were on roll given that it had won both its qualifying matches and then the first Group A game against KKR.
Devoid of any big stars, Auckland team has been a surprise package with its gritty performances. An enterprising batting line-up has been Auckland's strength and this was revealed in match against KKR with good contributions coming from the top order even though the target was not huge. Experienced all-rounder Azhar Mahmood was the star performer with both the bat and ball. He would be a key player for the team along with Vincent and Martin Guptill.
The trio remains the lifeline of Auckland's batting department, but against Titans on Wednesday, they failed to deliver with the bat and would be eager to return among runs.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 Mahela Jayawardene (captain), 2 Ajit Agarkar, 3 Unmukt Chand, 4 Morne Morkel, 5 Pawan Negi, 6 Naman Ojha, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Kevin Pietersen, 9 Virender Sehwag, 10 Ross Taylor, 11 Umesh Yadav.
Auckland Aces: 1 Gareth Hopkins (captain), 2 Andre Adams, 3 Azhar Mahmood, 4 Michael Bates, 5 Martin Guptill, 6 Ronnie Hira, 7 Anaru Kitchen, 8 Chris Martin, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Colin Munro, 11 Lou Vincent.