Will green Delhi effect turnaround?
Saturday, April 23, Delhi
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
'Juice it up baby!' is the new mantra for the battle-weary Delhi Daredevils, sitting glumly at the bottom of the cesspool. "We have prepared a green wicket unique to Twenty20 cricket. Never before will a Twenty20 be played on such a track with so much grass on it," the Feroz Shah Kotla curator said. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Delhi is well and truly in the red zone. The light at the end of the tunnel is green. Or so they hope. It makes sense, though. They brought seven seamers (seven!) in the auction and have been slowly killing them on a dull sluggish track. So why not try out a green track and see what happens? Right at the end of the Delhi daredevils' official team anthem video, there is this scene where Virender Sehwag gives the thumbs down to his team-mates' efforts and shows them how to bat front-foot pey. It's now time to start getting it right on the field.
Meanwhile the story of Punjab is showing signs of being a blockbuster just as their Bollywood-inspired official site hoped it would. The site features Adam Gilchrist in a mega close-up, as the hero, and has the names of rest of the 'supporting cast'. Gilchrist was their only star before the campaign but slowly new names are claiming their ticket to fame. Yet, if you check the batting and bowling records of the tournament, only two Punjab players check into the top ten. That once unknown Indian Paul-who? is right at the top of the batting chart and Praveen Kumar is at the No. 9 on the wicket-takers' list. Punjab's rise has been as a unit; someone or other has seized the big moments in a game and delivered. Will they continue to surprise or will there be a twist in the tale?
The green, green grass means Delhi will pack its team with seamers though one will have to wait and see if the curator delivers on his promise of a devilish pitch. Will Punjab consider playing David Hussey or stick to the winning combination from the last game?
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In the spotlight
Irfan Pathan's past dogs him like a shadow. The questions from the fans are plenty: Oh where is that inswing? Oh where is that pace? What is this gentle dibbly-dobbly stuff? Will we ever get to see the old Irfan? The expectations of him are always huge and the young man has struggled to shoulder that burden. The bowling has been listless, the batting hasn't come on and in many ways, he has reflected Delhi's sad reality. Will there be a miraculous turnaround or will he just slither away into anonymity?
Dinesh Karthik has had a quiet tournament so far as the top order has been doing the job. In the previous IPL editions, he was a strong performer for Delhi in the middle order and if the law of averages catches up with the top order, Karthik is well-equipped to step up to the plate. He has the shots and while he hasn't always shown maturity in shot selection, he has the tenacity and the skill to do well on tough pitches.
- Piyush Chawla has five ducks in all the editions of the IPL and is just one duck behind the record-holder, Shane Warne. His team-mate Praveen Kumar too is in the race, with four ducks.
- Shaun Marsh and Adam Gilchrist have nine IPL fifties though Jacques Kallis is at the top of the table with 13.
"Three [wins] in a row after a poor start. It has been a bit of a stop-start tournament, seems like the tournament is just beginning. Paul backed himself, and Shaun was brilliant."
Adam Gilchrist is a happy camper
"Sehwag brings a lot to the table. You learn a lot when you discuss batting with him. When he is around, there is a sense of positively around. He can encourage people when the chips are down."
Aaron Finch admires his captain's positivity under duress
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo