Delhi Daredevils v Kochi Tuskers Kerala, IPL 2011, Delhi May 1, 2011

What will the Kotla pitch do this time?

The Preview by Dustin Silgardo

Match facts

Monday, May 2, Delhi
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big picture

If this was a home-and-away tie of the likes one sees in the UEFA Champions League, Delhi Daredevils could relax in the knowledge that they have done the hard work in winning the away leg against Kochi Tuskers Kerala. However, unlike teams like Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings who have maximised home advantage, these two have been subject to mercurial tracks at their grounds, and have resultantly won only once each at home. There have expectedly been no staunch defences of their groundstaffs from Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene.

Jayawardene, in fact, must be glad to get away from Kochi, after having seen his side bowled out twice at the Nehru Stadium - once on a track that must have reminded Ishant Sharma of Perth, and once on a track where Parthiv Patel saw a length ball hit less than halfway up off stump.

Sehwag has made it absolutely clear what kind of a pitch he wants: hard and good to bat on. The curator at Feroz Shah Kotla tried to give him that. For the match against Kings XI Punjab, the pitch had more grass than most Indian football grounds do; and Delhi duly scored 231. Since then, however, the inborn slowness of the track has surfaced, and during Delhi's last home game, Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Iqbal Abdulla was turning the ball square.

What the Kotla will offer on Monday is anyone's guess. But with both teams desperate for points to keep them alive in the tournament, they would settle for a fair track that gives the sides batting first and second an equal chance.

Form guide (most recent first)

Delhi: WLLWL (seventh in points table)
Kochi: LLLWW (ninth in points table)

Team talk

Kochi's biggest worry will be that they have been bowled out in all their previous three games. They may decide to give opener Tanmay Srivastava a go, bring back VVS Laxman or even punt on Owais Shah. But the onus eventually lies on Brendon McCullum and Jayawardene himself to repeat the kind of performance they put in against Mumbai. Kochi went in with an all-Indian bowling attack last time around, and will probably look at the pitch before deciding whether to bring in either Muttiah Muralitharan or Thisara Perera.

The fourth international player's slot has been an absolute non-performer for Delhi. Aaron Finch, Mathew Wade and Travis Birt have together scored 86 runs from nine innings. Yet, strangely, Colin Ingram and Andrew McDonald have not got a game yet, not even when James Hopes was injured for the last match. Delhi have chopped and changed their bowling attack but may stick with the one that kept Kochi to 119 in the last game.

Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.

In the spotlight

Sehwag may have been critical of the low pitch in Kochi, but something about its unpredictable nature seemed to increase his determination, and he went on to play one of the best IPL innings. It is no coincidence that he has played big hands in two of his team's three wins, and he will need to at least give Delhi a decent start if they are to prevail again.

Brendon McCullum will always be remembered as the man who scored 158 not out in the inaugural match of the first IPL. But since then, he has disappointed, with only four half-centuries in his next 28 IPL games. He started this season promisingly, but has tailed away since, and his shot selection has been bizarre at times. Given that he is a senior member of the Kochi side, he needs to show more responsibility.

Prime numbers

  • Virender Sehwag has the highest strike-rate (167.06) in IPLs among players who have scored more than 500 runs over the four editions. The next highest is Yusuf Pathan's 160.08.

  • After having taken one and three scalps respectively on Sunday, Shane Warne and Pragyan Ojha have both come to within one wicket of Kochi's RP Singh's record of 56 wickets in IPLs.

The chatter

"The Kotla wicket is better than the Kochi one. The ball at least bounces up to knee height. In Twenty20 you need a track which is good to bat on where a team can score around 180, because that's what the crowd comes to see."

Virender Sehwag makes his views on slow and low tracks known

Dustin Silgardo is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chandrasekhar on May 2, 2011, 14:35 GMT

    @R8omanch4... pathan himself is dropping catches as if he has big holes in his hands... his fielding has been horrible... except for a few good spells, he has been anything but ordinary... pathan seems to be under pressure for he is being paid so much !

  • Romanch on May 2, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    I am sure DD will win dis IPL, bcoz Pathan's bowling has become exceptional, he has bad luck for wicket, bt wat d swing and inducker by pathan... i cant understand dat why all players drops catch on Pathan's bowling..

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    nice that irfan pathan's back in form...

  • Reghu on May 2, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    The ideal combination for KTK would be 1) MC Cullum 2) Jayawardene 3) Parthiv Patel 4) Ravindra Jadeja 5) Brad Hodge 6) Thisara Pereira 7) VVS Laxman 8) Raiphi Gomez 9) RP Singh 10) Vinay Kumar 11) Sreesanth

  • Reghu on May 2, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    KTK should have gone for Ganguly or Gayle to add strength to their team...... Raiphi and sreesanth were extremely disappointing....... maybe they can also try some youngsters like prasanth

  • Reghu on May 2, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    KTK has the worst resources compared to all other teams in IPL 4 along with DD and DC The indian players in an IPL team will more or less decide the fate of the franchise. In Kochi team, except from Ravindra Jadeja and Parthiv Patel to some extend, no Indian player is clicking on a consistant basis.RP singh has been a flop and Sreesanth has no consistancy or sense of direction.Raiphi and Vinay Kumar are too slow and i doubt whether any of them know what is a yorker..... Coming to the batting front, Mahela, McCullum are the key players - if they click well, then teh game is on....else the game is gone as Hodge has not yet managed even a single knock even though he has got lot of starts. Jadeja and Parthiv were outstanding.... The franchise owners should have thought again and added some more strength to the batting line up or bowling (Here both are weak).......lucky that tehy managed to notch 3 victories...........courtesy mccullum,ravindra jadeja and mahela

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    @Abhiram, Dude that is not he fault. Just see who is there to take wickets for KTK ?? See the batting line up. KTK is the much weaker sinde in this IPL. At least they managed to won 3 matches due to Mahela's Captaincy. also There are no good hard hitters in the line up. Murali also injured so how he can manage with available resources??. But i hope they will beat Delhi todays game

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    KTK can win if mahela doesn't play............

  • sachit on May 2, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    @Jay - I dare say VVS is suited for this format. I hope he proves me wrong 'cos he's one of the Indian batsmen i enjoy watching( being an old school cricket fan). Hodge has been disappointing and should make way. But really the onus will be on McCallum and Jayawardhana to provide a solid start the type they put up against CSK and MI

  • aabir on May 2, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    I would like to see Laxman in Kochi . He is a leader who suite for all formate.Dear Mahela he is a fantastic player and try to use his potential. and I thing He should be the CAPTAIN

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