Pietersen poised to make first appearance
Delhi Daredevils are likely to receive a much-needed boost, as Kevin Pietersen, the team's captain, is expected to recover from a finger injury and make his first appearance of the season against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday.
"I'm going to hopefully be back in the next game after I train well for a week. I have trained a couple of days, but it hasn't been an ideal start going into this tournament," Pietersen told iplt20.com "I had good practice for a couple of weeks in London, but then hurt myself and have had three weeks off. I just need another good week of training and then I'll be back."
With two heavy defeats at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table with the worst net run-rate among the eight teams. To compound their woes, their seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile suffered a hamstring injury against Super Kings and according to the stand-in captain Dinesh Karthik, could be "out for some time". Pietersen, however, remained optimistic of the team's chances.
"I want all the guys in the team to know that there is no pressure. I want all the players to relax and play to the best of their ability. Another important thing for me as a leader is that the guys train well. According to me, the training should be so thorough and intense that the game-day becomes easier."
Pujara wants to mould his style on Kallis
Kings XI Punjab batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has accepted his limitations as a T20 batsman and wants to mould his style on Jacques Kallis, as a steady accumulator. The opening batsman, whose IPL experience was limited to only 24 matches over four seasons before the current edition began, says he is "getting better and better" in the T20 format.
"I cannot be flamboyant like [Glenn] Maxwell or [David] Miller, but I can always be a Jacques Kallis who plays proper cricketing shots, but can still score runs at a good strike-rate," Pujara told iplt20.com. "My way of hitting may be classical where you try and time the ball."
In Kings XI's successful chase of 192 against Rajasthan Royals, Pujara batted through the innings to make 40 off 38 balls, while Maxwell and Miller batted at frenetic pace to achieve the target. Pujara made a relatively quicker 35 off 32 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday and the innings left him "satisfied". When questioned about his strike rate, Pujara said the presence of big hitters in the team has allowed him to play within his limitations.
"My role in the team is to stick at one end. I intend to rotate the strike and hit the boundaries as and when it is possible. I am opening the innings and I have to be ready to hit the ball from ball one or the very first over. The job becomes a bit difficult, but with time and few more matches, I will get better. I am getting better with each passing day."
Made too many mistakes against Maxwell - Moody
Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody has said his team paid the price for letting Kings XI Punjab's Glenn Maxwell off the hook as many as three times during his imposing 95 off 43 balls in Sharjah on Tuesday. Maxwell had offered two chances at long-on early in his innings. When on 4, a mis-hit fell short and later in the over, on 11, David Warner spilled a sitter in the same position. When on 62, Maxwell was caught at deep midwicket, but unfortunately for the Sunrisers, the bowler Darren Sammy had overstepped the crease.
"It is the nature of the game that we make mistakes at times and, unfortunately, we made three against the wrong batsman and ended up chasing 40 runs extra which in these conditions, is unrealistic," Moody said. "When a wonderful striker like Maxwell, who is in incredible form, is dropped twice in one over and is caught off a no ball, he is going to hurt you."
Moody said Sammy's no ball was unfortunate because the plan was to bowl a back of a length slower ball to tempt Maxwell to slog, with a fielder in the deep. Sunrisers slumped to their second defeat in as many games after they collapsed to 121 in pursuit of 194. Moody however backed the top order comprising Warner, Aaron Finch and Shikhar Dhawan to fire.
"It is not the ideal situation to be two down. We would rather be two up, but we have a world-class top-order who have proven themselves over time. I am absolutely confident that our top-order will fire and win us games."
Bailey looks to improve fielding
Kings XI Punjab could not have begun the season any better, moving to the top of the table with three successive wins on the back of some powerful hitting from Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, but the captain George Bailey believes that the team are yet to peak and could do with improving their fielding.
"I'm pleased with winning. I still don't think we've played a real good strong all-round game as yet," Bailey said. "We've batted well throughout and our bowling was good tonight but I don't think we've fielded to our potential yet. Just want to be realistic, there is still a long way to go in the tournament and a lot can happen."
"There have been quite a few dropped catches here (at Sharjah). The problem has been that whenever the ball goes high in the air in night games, there is no back drop. That makes it extremely hard to pick up the ball how it's coming down. Plus, there is a bit of pressure of dropping the catches too. I'm sure things will pick up."
Bailey also saved special praise for his left-arm spinner Akshar Patel, who has picked up four wickets from three games.
"For a young guy, he's doing a fantastic job. Not to forget his fielding too, he took a sharp catch today," he said. "He is only going to get more confident. We really back his batting abilities too. We see a fantastic cricketer coming out in him."