Delhi Daredevils have got their Indian Premier League 2017 campaign off to a good start as they try and make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
A late crisis, with JP Duminy pulling out citing personal reasons and Quinton de Kock being ruled out with a finger injury, threatened to disrupt Delhi’s plans this year too, but they have done well to regroup and bag two wins in three matches so far to be at No. 3.
Come Monday (April 17), Delhi will face a big test as they lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders, who currently top the eight-team points table, at Feroz Shah Kotla for the 18th match of the tournament.
Delhi’s batting has been bolstered by the return of Shreyas Iyer, who was out for the first two matches following a bout of chicken pox and then scored 22 in 17 balls as Delhi pulled of a dominant 51-run win over Kings XI Punjab on Saturday. That win was scripted by a well-paced half-century from Sam Billings, good late-order hitting from Corey Anderson, Chris Morris and Pat Cummins, and excellent spells from the last two with the ball.
While the foreign players rose to the occasion against Punjab, Delhi’s domestic contingent has fired in their previous fixtures. Against Rising Pune Supergiant, Sanju Samson smashed a century, and Rishabh Pant has been impressive right from the beginning of the tournament, while Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra bagged three wickets each in that 97-run win.
In terms of confidence, Delhi will be feeling good ahead of their next challenge, but they will have to plan well against Gautam Gambhir and Co, who have hardly changed the core of their team from previous editions and have been clinical in winning three of their four games so far.
Gambhir has led from the front with 182 runs in four games, and he has received support from Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Sunil Narine, who has been used as a pinch-hitting option at the top of the order since Chris Lynn was sidelined with a shoulder injury after lighting up the tournament up with a swashbuckling 93 not out against Gujarat Lions in their first game.
The top order has done the bulk of the scoring, with Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav largely quiet so far. There might be a thought of bringing Shakib Al Hasan in, possibly for Colin de Grandhomme, to bolster the batting and the spin, though Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Yusuf have done a good job so far, as have the pacers.
On the whole, Kolkata look the more balanced team, but they have depended on their top order to carry them through. That’s where Delhi must make inroads early, and then back their explosive personnel to swing the result in favour of their team.
Played 18. Delhi 7, Kolkata 10, NR 1
Head-to-head record at Feroz Shah Kotla
Played 7. Delhi 2, Kolkata 4, NR 1