Batting firepower gives Delhi the edge
Match factsApril 19, 2009
Start time 12.30pm (10.30GMT)
Big PictureDelhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab were semi-finalists in the inaugural season of the IPL but both stumbled at the penultimate hurdle. In the lead-up to the second edition, however, Delhi have emerged pre-tournament favourites and with good reason: they possess an outstanding balance and their top overseas players are available for the entire tournament. Delhi have the best opening combination in international cricket, AB de Villiers has developed tremendously over the last year, and their bowling line-up includes the world's No. 1 Twenty20 spinner. And then there's Glenn McGrath. Delhi's strength, though, has been their top-order and they added power to it by snapping up David Warner even before the Australian opener dropped jaws by clobbering South Africa on debut at the MCG.
That top-order will severely test a Punjab bowling attack that is significantly weaker than that of 2008. They are without their best bowlers from last year, Sreesanth, who is injured, and Brett Lee, who has been out of form and is currently on Australia duty. The mantle of leading the attack will rest on Irfan Pathan, VRV Singh and legspinner Piyush Chawla though Punjab also have Burt Cockley, a 23-year-old Australian quick, in their ranks.
If their bowlers manage to rein Delhi in, Punjab have the batting talent to put it across them. Yuvraj Singh, who hit six sixes in an over during the World Twenty20 in South Africa, will play the most important role while expecting significant contributions from Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who could open with new recruit Ravi Bopara. They also have last season's highest run-scorer, Shaun Marsh, and James Hopes but they will be available only after Australia's ODI series against Pakistan.
Player form guide
Delhi: Sehwag and Gambhir were in explosive form during India's tour of New Zealand, de Villiers had a successful summer against Australia and Vettori was steady as ever for New Zealand during their season.
Punjab: Yuvraj was in hot form during the ODIs in New Zealand but struggled in the Tests; Pathan played the two Twenty20 internationals in New Zealand but got smashed for 38 in three overs and 41 in four.
In from the cold
Glenn McGrath: McGrath is into his 40th year and has spent his time with his children after the death of his wife in June 2008 while running a charity organization. He decided to play the 2009 IPL only in December but his preparations for this year's event haven't been as intensive as last year.
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara: Neither of Sri Lanka's premier batsmen has played cricket at a significant level since the terrorist attacks on their team bus in Lahore which forced the abandonment of the tour of Pakistan in March. Both players were treated for injuries after the attack.
Watch out for
David Warner: There's no middle ground with Warner. He's either hot or cold. He was sizzling on debut at the MCG whose massive boundaries he cleared repeatedly. The fans sitting in the stands behind the midwicket boundary at Newlands would do well to watch out for his pull.
Yuvraj v Vettori: Yuvraj's troubles against spin have been well documented and in Vettori, he will be up against one of the world's cleverest slow bowlers. He didn't do too badly against Vettori in New Zealand, scoring 33 runs off 38 balls with one dismissal
Sehwag and Gambhir v Pathan and Yuvraj: They would have faced each other plenty of times in Indian nets sessions, and Sehwag and Gambhir will try to use that familiarity to attack Pathan's swing with the new ball. Rival captains Sehwag and Yuvraj will also be passing on inside tips to their bowlers on how to get the other out.
Team newsDelhi's first choice overseas players are likely to be Warner, de Villiers, Vettori and McGrath, which means the Englishmen - Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah - and the Sri Lankans - Tillakaratne Dilshan and Farveez Maharoof - will have to wait their turn. They also have to decide whether to split the Indian opening combination of Sehwag and Gambhir, who bat so well together, to give Warner a free rein during the Powerplays. If they do, then Gambhir is likely to bat at No. 3 with de Villiers adding solidity to the middle. The Indians in the bowling line-up are likely to be Ashish Nehra and Yo Mahesh, although little-known fast bowler Umesh Yadav is also in the reckoning.
Delhi: 1 Virender Sehwag (capt), 2 David Warner, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Rajat Bhatia, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Yo Mahesh/Amit Mishra,10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Glenn McGrath.
Punjab are almost certain to play Jayawardene and Sangakkara while the other two overseas spots could go to new signings Ravi Bopara and Yusuf Abdulla, who will be familiar with home conditions. The other options are Luke Pomersbach, Simon Katich and Burt Cockley.
Punjab: 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 3 Mahela Jayawardene, 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Tanmay Srivastava, 7 Taruwar Kohli, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Wilkin Mota, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 VRV Singh, 10 Yusuf Abdulla.
Punjab won both their games against Delhi last season. In the first match Punjab's fast bowlers wrecked Delhi's top-order in Mohali to help secure a four-wicket victory in the final over. Rain affected the second game and Punjab won the game by six runs under the D-L method after Delhi had scored 118 for 4 in 11 overs.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo