Delhi and Kolkata fight for survival

There will be a distinct Delhi flavour to Wednesday’s clash between Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium here, over 1,200 kilometres from the Capital.

The Daredevils’ success will once again depend to an extent on whether Virender Sehwag can fire or not. Those planning to thwart him include men who have been his Delhi teammates for over a decade now — KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, assistant coach Vijay Dahiya and seasoned all-rounder Rajat Bhatia.

Delhi are in a desperate situation, with David Warner admitting after their victory in the previous game against Pune Warriors that “ every match is a semi- final for us from now on”. They have just two wins out of nine, and even an all- win record in the seven subsequent matches will only put them in contention for a play- off spot, not guarantee it.

Warner’s attacking halfcentury and some good support from Kedar Jadhav on Sunday drew the attention away from Delhi’s top- order woes, but at least on the bowling front, they were good. They have to step up their fielding effort, though.

Kolkata, with three wins out of nine, are only slightly better off. While Gambhir has been in terrific form and has had good support in the form of Eoin Morgan, but the rest of the batting has rarely clicked in unison, as the skipper admitted at the prematch press conference.

“My concern is the form of the whole team. In a long tournament like the IPL, you will find that there will be some players who would hit form during the initial phases while there will be some who make a comeback during the last phase. We have a lot of faith and trust in Yusuf,” he said when asked if he was worried about Yusuf Pathan’s abject failure with the bat.

“After the Chennai game, I came to know we need to win at least five out of seven matches in order to qualify. We need to play some good cricket consistently, which we haven’t been doing. We don’t want to be in Delhi’s situation where you need to win all the matches.” KKR’s bowling is heavily dependent on spinners Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake, which will lead to a selection headache on a pitch which has good pace and bounce. However, KKR might be tempted to persist with their strength, given the 80- plus yard boundaries.

Asked whether Brett Lee could make it back to the playing XI, Gambhir kept his cards close to his chest. “ The best XI will be playing for KKR and if Brett Lee fits in that XI, he will play,” he said guardedly.


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