New Delhi: Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings are tied on two points from two matches, having won and lost one apiece, and as they go head-to-head at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Tuesday night it is with a big chance for both sides to gain ground on the IPL 5 points table. Its early days yet but both Delhi and Chennai need to work up steam before the mid-section of the tournament, and as MS Dhoni comes up against Virender Sehwag, the man with whom he is widely believed to have several differences, the friction coating this match is unmistakable.
Chennai are third, but ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians and Delhi on net run-rate. Should Mumbai beat Deccan Chargers on Monday night, they will move ahead of Chennai; should Deccan win, it will bring them on two points as well. Should Rajasthan Royals beat Kolkata Knight Riders in Tuesday’s first match, they will further their lead over Chennai and Delhi; should Rajasthan lose, Kolkata Knight Riders will get two points. Thus, both Chennai and Delhi will seek to win to move ahead of the rest and level with Pune Warriors India and Rajasthan.
Chennai rebounded from their opening game loss by thrashing Deccan over the weekend, while Delhi slipped in their second match by losing to Bangalore. Chennai are defending champions, and Delhi are a much stronger unit in IPL 5. For both teams the key is to remain consistent while identifying the crop of players to take them forward in the league.
Delhi have been given a massive boost by the arrival of Kevin Pietersen and Mahela Jawardene from Sri Lanka, following the end of the two-Test series. Both are new recruits to the franchise, having been picked during the off-season, and Delhi desperately need them in the absence of David Warner (international duty) and Ross Taylor (injured). Both are superb players with solid Twenty20 numbers, and Delhi will hastily slot them into the top order. Jayawardene will open the innings with Sehwag, while Pietersen should bat at No. 3 or 4. Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell will be the overseas players to make way.
Chennai would have taken plenty of confidence from the all-round performance of their $20 million acquisition, Ravindra Jadeja, in the win over Deccan. Jadeja top-scored with a brisk 48 to revive the innings and then snared a career-best 5 for 16 to spin Deccan to a big defeat. Jadeja's contribution and the awesome cameo from Dwayne Bravo, which included five sixes, were the plus points in that win but the prolonged slump that the opener Murali Vijay is in means CSK may have to look elsewhere. Vijay's Tamil Nadu opening partner Abhinav Mukund may be the man to come into the playing XI, but Chennai also have Srikkanth Anirudha to use at the top. Other than that there are no expected changes.
Sehwag's prolonged slump – he was out first ball in the last match, familiarly slashing a wide ball into a fielder's hands – adds pressure on him as he squares off against Dhoni, himself struggling for form with 11 runs in two innings so far. Both Sehwag's and Dhoni's auras have faded since the tour of Australia, and both need runs to remind critics of what they can do. Inspiring their teams without scoring runs is another proposition altogether. Expect a crackerjack of an encounter.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Naman Ojha (wk), 5 Venugopal Rao, 6 Yogesh Nagar, 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Morne Morkel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Shahbaz Nadeem
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Murali Vijay/Abhinav Mukund/Srikkanth Anirudha, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Albie Morkel, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Shadab Jakati, 11 Doug Bollinger