Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Start time 1830 (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)
This season of the IPL is quite important for Virat Kohli. He is widely expected to take over the leadership of the Indian team when MS Dhoni relinquishes it. Leading his franchise to the title would not do his national prospects any harm at all. Gautam Gambhir's leadership credentials started being talked up after he led Kolkata to the title in 2012. It is a different matter that his batting form did not hold up on the international stage. Kohli has been Bangalore captain for a while now and with the kind of batting riches at his disposal, including Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, it has to be highly disappointing for him that the franchise has not even made the playoffs of the last two editions. As he said recently, this could potentially be the season Bangalore are finally able to break the title drought.
Kevin Pietersen, the Delhi captain, will be leading a franchise in the most lucrative cricket tournament in the world months after having his international career terminated by his own board. It is a development the cricket world will be watching closely. However, it will have to wait because Pietersen has been ruled out of Delhi's opening match with a finger injury. "Kevin is still a few days away so he won't be considered for tomorrow," Delhi assistant coach Eric Simons was quoted as saying in the Guardian. "It is obviously a setback because he's an important player in our set-up and an important player in any team. It is a difficult situation." Pietersen is doubtful for the second game too.
Dinesh Karthik will lead Delhi against Bangalore. As has become somewhat of a permanent feature for Delhi over the years, Karthik will have a battery of fast bowlers to choose from, led by India quick Mohammed Shami, to try and counter the might of the Bangalore batting, which had another big name added at this year's auction in Yuvraj Singh.
Watch out for ...
Yuvraj Singh finds himself out of India's Test and ODI squads and will quickly want to forget his previous T20 match for the country - the World T20 final a couple of weeks ago in Dhaka. Kohli wanted Yuvraj so dearly that he had his franchise owner put in the auction's highest bid for the senior batsman. This is a critical season for Yuvraj on so many fronts.
Dinesh Karthik's international career has unfortunately coincided with Dhoni's, which means the opportunity to play comes rarely even though he has been around for so long. It came in the recent Asia Cup, but Karthik did not really make it count. He was the second costliest buy in the auction after Yuvraj, and will have another season to make his case again.
Stats and trivia
- The head-to-head record between these teams stands at 5-5, with one game tied
- Virat Kohli is one of only two batsmen who have been dismissed for 99 in a T20 innings
"I feel he is going to be the X-factor for us this season."
Virat Kohli on Yuvraj Singh at the tournament's official website
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo