Can Hyderabad become Deccan's fortress?
Friday, April 16
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
It is a clash between two sides that have exchanged captains from last season. Both had disappointing starts to this edition, but followed them up with morale-boosting wins. Both have relatively unknown batsmen as their highest run-getters. It is hard not to draw parallels between Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab, yet a little scratching beneath the surface reveals very different back stories.
Deccan look well-balanced, and seem dependent on their bowling strength. They spent $2.83mn on bowlers in the auction, and in their last game, the seamers were the key according to captain Kumar Sangakkara. With Dale Steyn leading their attack, Ishant Sharma looking sharper than he has in a long time, and Manpreet Gony and Rusty Theron also in the squad, the pace and bounce on the pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium might make home advantage a key for Deccan. That's something no-one would have said on Thursday afternoon, before which the franchise had never won in 10 attempts at this venue.
Punjab's victory against Chennai Super Kings also came about due to the fruition of a plan; except theirs - to hope young Indian players will carry them - seems a more risky one than Deccan's. What Paul Valthaty did in Mohali will be talked about possibly for the length of the tournament. But the question is, how many times can someone pull off a Valthaty? Given Punjab's lack of depth, Deccan will start this particular match as favourites, despite not being the strongest side in the tournament.
David Hussey, Punjab's most expensive buy at the auction, is expected to come in, but it will be interesting to see who makes way for him. Excluding either Ryan Mclaren or Ryan Harris will weaken an already frail-looking bowling attack, while Shaun Marsh has been prolific for Punjab in past seasons.
Deccan may continue to leave out the $1.1mn-worth Cameron White, given the form JP Duminy showed in the last match, and Dan Christian's all-round abilities. They will need to think of a way to move those two up the order. Manpreet Gony will probably continue to play in place of Pragyan Ojha - the second-highest wicket-taker in IPLs - on a track that is expected to favour the seamers.
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In the spotlight
JP Duminy played a cameo against Bangalore, but is capable of getting bigger scores in the Twenty20 format. In the second season of the IPL, in 2009, he got five fifties for Mumbai Indians, and in the Champions League Twenty20 later the same year, he was the leading run-getter, scoring 224 runs including an incredible 99 not out for Cape Cobras. With Sangakkara due to go back to Sri Lanka in the first week of May, Duminy may also be an option for captaincy.
Thank's to Valthaty's brilliance against Chennai, Dinesh Karthik's 21 not out off 11 balls went unnoticed. However, as the most experienced Indian player in the entire squad, Karthik will be a crucial player for Punjab. At Delhi Daredevils, his steady contributions - he scored more than 250 runs in each of the last two seasons - were often eclipsed in a star-laden batting line-up. For Punjab, though, he could be the pivot around which the middle order revolves.
- Deccan Chargers lost their first four encounters against Kings XI Punjab, but have won the last two. All six matches were at different venues.
- In the 24 matches Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar played in together for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Praveen Kumar took more wickets - 24 compared to Steyn's 21 - and had a better bowling average. The two will face each other on Saturday.
"Darren [Lehman] has been working with the groundsmen; he's seen what our strengths are in the bowling, and one of the advantages of playing at home is being able to prepare wickets that suit us."
Dale Steyn is enjoying the pace-friendly tracks in Hyderabad.
Dustin Silgardo is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.