Kochi desperate to avoid joining Delhi
Saturday, April 30, Kochi
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Delhi Daredevils are eating with the IPL's wooden spoon at the moment, dwelling at the bottom of the league table, after five defeats in seven matches. Their margins for error are thin and they need to win a substantial number of their remaining games to have a hope of finishing in the top four.
Delhi have just suffered two defeats at home, on a Feroz Shah Kotla pitch transformed to suit their seam-heavy attack and their hard-hitting batsmen. The first loss was against Royal Challengers Bangalore, a match they were in until the very end. The second, against Kolkata Knight Riders, was a thrashing. Their firepower lies in the top order but Virender Sehwag and David Warner have fired in unison only once. The bowling, though, is the problem. In the absence of a quality spinner, their attack is one-dimensional and opposition teams thrive on the lack of variety.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala are seventh in the league. They are a defeat away from being in Delhi's boat. They are a victory away from landing close to the top four. In their previous game, chasing Deccan Chargers' 129, Kochi collapsed for 74. It wasn't a one-off either, for before that game, they were dismissed for 109 by Rajasthan Royals: two collapses that eroded the platform built by three consecutive wins. The fact that Ravindra Jadeja, who's scored 185 in seven innings, is their second-highest run-getter, ahead of Mahela Jayawardene and Brad Hodge, reveals the extent of their batting woes.
Form guide (most recent first)
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: LLWWW (eighth in points table) Delhi Daredevils: LLWLW (tenth in points table)
In their previous game - the loss to Kolkata - Delhi fielded David Warner, James Hopes, Morne Morkel and Travis Birt as their overseas players. Morkel was the spearhead of a five-man seam attack also comprising Irfan Pathan, Hopes, Umesh Yadav and Ajit Agarkar. Given that the present composition isn't working, Delhi could considering giving season debuts to either Colin Ingram or Andrew McDonald. Roelof van der Merwe's left-arm spin is another option they might consider to diversify their bowling options.
Kochi's overseas players against Deccan were Jayawardene, McCullum, Hodge and Thisara Perera and that is unlikely to change, unless Muttiah Muralitharan plays for Perera. Both Raiphi Gomez and Kedar Jadhav have not impressed with the bat so far, so perhaps it's worth giving Tanmay Srivastava a go.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Jayawardene and McCullum v Warner and Sehwag: Of all the IPL teams, Kochi and Delhi probably rely on their openers the most. Kochi's pair bats with imagination and places the ball into unusual areas. Delhi's duo simply smashes it. In their varying styles, all four are proven destroyers of attacks and the pair that prevails tomorrow is likely to decide the contest.
Venugopal Rao v Ravindra Jadeja: Rao is Delhi's second-highest run-scorer, with 209 at a strike-rate of 129. Jadeja is Kochi's, with 185 at a strike-rate of 130. Both play similar roles for their teams, shoring up a top-order wobble or providing an aggressive finish. In top-heavy batting orders, they perform vital supporting roles.
- The 55-run margin of Kochi's defeat against Deccan was the largest in IPL 2011.
- Delhi's 231 against Kings XI Punjab is the highest score of the season, evidence of what their batsmen can do.
- Sehwag's strike-rate of 168 is the season's highest for batsmen with at least 200 runs.
"There was grass on the wicket, there was moisture too. I don't want to discuss the wicket factor too much, but it was not the wicket that we wanted."
Mahela Jayawardene on the pitch on which Kochi were shot out for 74 by Deccan Chargers. Kochi are playing at home once again.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo