Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, two of the most disappointing sides in the IPL over the years, will take on each other in the match at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. Having failed miserably last season, both the teams were hoping for a confident start to the new season. But, it wasn’t to be. While Delhi surrendered rather meekly to Kolkata Knight Riders, folding up for 98, Punjab came second best against a strong Gujarat Lions batting line-up. Their batting was decent, but the bowlers couldn’t impress. After the game on Friday, at least one team will go ahead with greater confidence.
Despite the fact that Delhi were thrashed in their opening match, skipper Zaheer Khan has expressed confidence that his team can fight back. They need to find the batsmen who can deliver though. From the squad they have selected, South African opener Quinton de Kock and Sanju Samson are actually the only two quality batsmen, and they will depend heavily on the duo to succeed. Among others, they would hope for runs from Shreyas Iyer as well as Mayank Agarwal. Then, there is also JP Duminy, who can deliver if he fits into the scheme of things.
During the auctions, Delhi had picked up Carlos Brathwaite, who was not a big name back then, but has become hot property since those four big sixes in the World T20 final. He failed against Kolkata, but the high hopes of him will remain, especially with the bat, as they take on Punjab. All-rounder Pawan Negi is also part of the team. Delhi have purchased him for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore, so they would obviously be expecting a lot from him. He too failed in the previous game, so would be keen to make amends. The big question is whether Zaheer can lead from the front.
Punjab did not perform badly with the bat against Lions, but they lacked the finishing punch, as a result of which they did not finish with a dangerous score. Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra game the team a good start, and then would be keen to continue the same. But, what would matter more would be the performance of big hitters like skipper David Miller and Glenn Maxwell. If the two can come to the party, Punjab become highly dangerous. Shaun Marsh is also a proven batting performer for Punjab. What they need is for the batting side to put things together.
Punjab’s bowlers got thrashed in their defeat to the Lions. So, their confidence would be a bit low. But, they need to pick themselves up. Mitchell Johnson will have to lead from charge for the team. At the same time, Miller would like to see striking efforts from the likes of Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma. In the spin department, they will be depending on Axar Patel to come good. If Proteas pacer Kyle Abbott can fit into the team, it will also help Punjab’s cause, for he has genuine pace that can make a difference.
--By A Cricket Analyst