Their confidence restored after a bumpy start, a transformed Delhi Daredevils will look to stretch Kings XI Punjab to the limit when they face off in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Delhi on Saturday.
Daredevils' huge win over Rising Pune Supergiant acted as a warning to the rival teams, including their immediate opponents, whose unbeaten run in IPL10 has just come to a screeching halt.
Daredevils are entering the match after hammering Rising Pune Supergiant by 97 runs, thanks to young batsman Sanju Samson's maiden IPL ton, and Chris Morris' incredible power-hitting down the order.
The South African's nine-ball 38 is still being talked about Punjab, who beat RPS and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first two games, squandered an advantageous position to lose to Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets on Thursday night.
Daredevils boast a strong battling line-up, which is full of all-rounders and will fancy their chances against Punjab bowlers, who did a decent job before being hammered around by the KKR batsmen.
The batsmen have largely delivered for the hosts except the openers – Aditya Tare and Sam Billings. One or the other batsmen has clicked when the situation demanded – be it Rishabh Pant or Samson or Morris.
But the openers have struggled to provide a solid start, and it will be interesting to see if they persist with Tare or change the combination at the top. It seems Billings will continue in the opener's role.
Despite not having many specialist batsmen, Daredevils' strength is their young batting line-up even as skipper Zaheer Khan and spinner Amit Mishra have done reasonably well early into the tournament, and they would expect others to chip in.
Punjab bowlers have a job at hand, specially after KKR exposed their weaknesses at the Eden Gardens. The Punjab bowlers managed to restrict RPS and RCB under 165, but KKR skipper Gambhir and surprise opener Sunil Narine took them to the cleaners with remarkable ease.
Punjab have admitted that Narine opening the batting did disturb their plans and the surprise move hurt them badly. Except Mohit Sharma, the visitors do not boast of a reliable name. Ishant Sharma did get a game at the expense of T Natrajan against KKR, but bowled only two overs.
Since Feroze Shah Kotla is Ishant's home ground, he might get his second game, considering his familiarity with the conditions.
The wicket at Kotla remains a talking point but high-scoring IPL games have been witnessed here. Both Daredevils and Punjab have some big-hitting batsmen, especially the visitors, who have David Miller and Glenn Maxwell. So, the fans can expect lot of big hits as entertainment.
It's still early days in the league, and the two teams can still experiment with their combinations. However, not winning many games can affect their play-offs chances later on.
Twenty20 is a fickle format and the game can change in a matter of minutes. The super fast format does not give many chances to settle, hence remaining focused on the job is crucial for all teams.
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (capt), Mohammad Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, CV Milind, Khaleel Ahmed, Pratyush Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Aditya Tare, Shashank Singh, Ankit Bawane, Navdeep Saini, Corey Anderson, Angelo Mathews, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Carlos Brathwaite and Sam Billings.
Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (C), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Armaan Jaffer, Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Arman Jaffer, Anureet Singh, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Pradeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, T Natrajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Gurkeerat Mann, Rahul Tewatia, Darren Sammy, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Ishant Sharma.
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