Delhi Daredevils, high on confidence after a rollicking 97-run win against Rising Pune Supergiant, will hope for a similar display in their first match at home in front of their long-suffering fans when they take on Kings XI Punjab at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday (April 15).
Delhi began their Indian Premier League 2017 campaign with a stutter, as they failed to chase down 158 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a collective batting failure, with only Rishabh Pant, who put his personal grief behind him to make a stirring 36-ball 57, shining.
There were many lessons to be learnt from that defeat, and they seemed to have been absorbed well if their batting exhibition en route to 205 for 4 against Pune was any evidence. Sanju Samson’s hundred was special and Chris Morris’s cameo of 38 from just nine balls was breathtaking too, but the bowlers showed what havoc they could wreak as well, if they had some support from the batsmen.
And that batting lineup could be further boosted by the return of Shreyas Iyer after a bout of chicken pox. It was confirmed that Iyer, who had a wonderful first-class season, was available for selection, and that could mean bad news for Aditya Tare, who has scored 18 and 0 in his two hits this season from the top of the order.
Punjab, meanwhile, had a forgettable game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday, losing by eight wickets. The margin suggests it was a one-sided show and though that was true in the second half of the game, they were guilty of squandering an excellent start in the first half.
With Martin Guptill fit and available for selection, there will be pressure on Hashim Amla to hold his place at the top order. Punjab would also do well to remember that Glenn Maxwell, the captain, won’t always fire and others will need to step up. In the past, the franchise has been overly reliant on the combo of Maxwell and David Miller, and though it’s early days in the tournament, they would want to guard against making a similar misstep.
Between the two teams, Delhi’s bowlers hold the edge, having restricted both oppositions they’ve faced till now to below 160. Punjab can’t allow that tally to climb to three on Sunday.
Played 18. Delhi 10. Punjab 8.
Head-to-head record at Feroz Shah Kotla
Played 8. Delhi 4. Punjab 4.