Delhi v Kolkata, 1st qualifier, IPL 2012, Pune May 21, 2012

Pace v spin as teams target first final


Match facts

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders have easily been the best sides this IPL. It is not only the points table which tells you that. The other two sides in the playoffs have not been as dominant. Mumbai Indians have won as many games as Knight Riders have, but have not been remotely as clinical; Chennai Super Kings have had to rely on other sides' messing up to sneak in.

Neither Daredevils nor Knight Riders have made it to an IPL final before. One of them will do that tomorrow. Daredevils have traversed the entire length of the points table this season, ending on top following their last-place finish in 2011. Realising that their batting was too dependent on Virender Sehwag last season, they brought in heavyweights like Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor. While Taylor has almost sleepwalked through the season, Pietersen's impact while he was available was huge. The arrival of David Warner has filled the void left behind by Pietersen and Jayawardene has been steady.

Knight Riders' transformation from the side once led by Sourav Ganguly is now complete. They were the target of numerous jokes for the first three IPL seasons but no one's laughing now. A run of eight consecutive defeats in 2009 has given way to six consecutive wins this season. Had Knight Riders not blown a middling chase against Kings XI Punjab at home, they would have won nine in a row.

A heavy-duty Daredevils line-up is up against the only attack to go for less than seven runs an over this season. The venue tilts the contest slightly in favour of Knight Riders. The pitch at the Sahara Stadium in Pune has been a tricky one for batsmen, as Pune Warriors' Robin Uthappa pointed out. "It's the toughest wicket we have played in the country and it's very difficult to score runs here," Uthappa said. Only Wankhede Stadium, among the regular venues, has had a lower run-rate this season, 7.11, than Pune, 7.34.

Knight Riders defended 136 quite comfortably against Warriors a couple of days ago in Pune. Daredevils had chased down 147 in 16 overs against Warriors in Pune. Should be some contest tomorrow. The loser will get another match on Friday to make the final.

Form guide

Delhi Daredevils: WLWLW (most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWLLW

Players to watch

Despite the presence of other big guns, Daredevils have still relied, though to a lesser extent than previous season, on Virender Sehwag. Their captain has responded with 484 runs at a strike-rate of 164.62, including five consecutive half-centuries. The slowness of the Pune pitch had made no difference to Sehwag when he took the Warriors bowlers for an unbeaten 87 off 48 balls. Will he smash Sunil Narine tomorrow, like he said he would have done had he not got out early when these two sides last met?

Twenty-two wickets at 5.14 runs an over. Sunil Narine has been nearly unplayable, with even Sachin Tendulkar failing to pick him. It is very difficult to decipher from his release whether it is an offspinner or the flicked carrom ball, unlike in the cases of Ajantha Mendis and even R Ashwin. How will Daredevils tackle him?

That Gautam Gambhir has made six fifties this season and the rest of his team-mates put together have managed three says it all. Knight Riders, though, have managed to win their previous two games without a big contribution from their captain. Gambhir has made lots of runs this season on pitches where scoring them has not been easy. Will he manage to click again?

Team combination

Warner, Jayawardene and Morne Morkel should take three overseas player spots. Will Daredevils risk playing Taylor as the fourth? Will they stick with the allrounder Andre Russell, who went for 51 runs in their previous game? Or will they play Roelof van der Merwe for an additional spin option? They went in with two Indian left-arm spinners Pawan Negi and Shahbaz Nadeem when they played Warriors in Pune.

Knight Riders could stick to the same side that won in Pune and Mumbai, with plenty of spin options in Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Iqbal Abdulla and Yusuf Pathan.

Meetings this season

Daredevils won a rain-affected game by eight wickets in Kolkata. Knight Riders restricted Daredevils to 153 in Delhi in the return match and won by six wickets with Brendon McCullum making a fifty. Jayawardene and Gambhir had a heated altercation in that game after the former was given not out when he edged Jacques Kallis to the wicketkeeper.

Stats and trivia

  • Knight Riders have scored the least runs this season as a team, 2150 in 15 games compared to Daredevils' 2365 in 16.
  • Knight Riders have conceded just 6.99 runs an over, by far the lowest this season. The next best are Mumbai Indians, who have gone for 7.54. Daredevils have given away 7.73.
  • Warner and Sehwag have the highest strike-rates this season, 172.02 and 164.62 (min 100 runs)


    "I told everyone 'give this line-up a year or so and we will dominate,' and that's exactly what we have done."
    Morne Morkel isn't surprised by Daredevils' improvement this season

    Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MichaelBurton on May 22, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    Shakib Al Hasan c †Ojha b Pathan 1 (3b 0x4 0x6) SR: 33.33

    13.4 Pathan to Shakib Al Hasan, OUT, caught behind! Shakib tried to cut without moving his feet much, the short of a length ball from Irfan was much too close to the left-hander and Shakib got a faint edge, he walked in fact

  • dummy4fb on May 22, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    i think kkr will won this semifinal bcoiuse they have spin like sakib and narine are good fightes

  • dummy4fb on May 22, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    @ Vivaswan. Yes you right. But you know we love Shakib Very much as like you all indians like Sachin Tendulkar. Narine is a good bowler. He is the key of KKR. But remember it - Shakib is more Experienced then Narine....

  • dummy4fb on May 22, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    Narine has not been able to do anything at international level.He is just doing well in this low class tournament IPL.Shakib has been doing well in test,ODi ,T-20 everywhere.He has 9 5 wicket haul in tests and even in England he gave hard time to English batsmen.So Shakib is way better the Narine.2 years later Shakib will still be the No 1 allrounder,while Narine will be lost like Shaun Marsh,Ajantha Mendis or Sohail Tanvir

  • Fogu on May 22, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    I am bangladeshi and I am also tired of over the top comments about Shakib. He is a great bangladeshi player and a very good international player. For him to be considered "great of all time" as some nuts are suggesting, he needs to do it for another ten years with all levels of competition. Hopefully he will prove you right. Until then, enjoy his talent, appreciate it but don't over do it.

  • dummy4fb on May 22, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    i thnk the 1ly diff bw the sides s gta be narine!! his ovs r surely gonna pay in a crunch game lyk ths,,,

  • TeamSelector on May 22, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    With all due respect to Baz & he is doing a good job, but I think KKR's 4 foreigns should be Kallis, Shakib, Narine & TenDoescate. They desperately need batting depth in the middle order without sacrificing their bowling options. Shakib & Tendo will fit the bill perfectly. Yusuf needs to bat @ #4 so he can play himself in. It's amazing that they made the playoff without a contribution from him. If he fails at four, then Shakib & Tendo will still be there along with Tiwari & Das. 1-Bisla, 2-Gambhir, 3-Kallis, 4-Yusuf Pathan, 5-Shakib, 6-TenDoescate, 7-Tiwari, 8- Das, 9-Narine, 10-Abdulla, 11-Balaji.

  • MENDIS_Forever on May 22, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    KKR fans are boasting as if thay've already won the game.Let's see guys.Go DD Go!!!

  • dummy4fb on May 22, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    @Vivaswan Tiwari, 100% agree with you. Sakib's fans are doing a bit of extra duty

  • MENDIS_Forever on May 22, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Go devils go...!!!! surely Sehwag can snmash Narine all over the park!

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