Pre-tournament favourites square off
Match factsApril 23, 2009
Start time 12.30pm (10.30GMT)
Here's hoping the rain stays away from Durban because the first of two matches on Thursday features teams that are favourites to make the semi-finals based on early form. Delhi Daredevils, tipped to go all the way even before the IPL started, began strongly by beating Kings XI Punjab by ten wickets. Chennai Super Kings shrugged off an indifferent outing against Mumbai Indians and scored a 92-run victory against Bangalore Royal Challengers.
What makes this game potentially terrific is the contest between Delhi's power-packed batting line and Chennai's high-quality bowling attack. Virender Sehwag launched a merciless assault on Punjab's bowlers during their short chase and the other weapons in Delhi's arsenal - Gautam Gambhir, AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan - were not even needed. However, Chennai possess the bowlers to test such a batting line-up. In Andrew Flintoff and Muttiah Muralitharan, they have two wicket-taking bowlers who are unlikely to concede too many runs. Their support cast of Albie Morkel, Manpreet Gony and L Balaji isn't easy pickings either.
If one was pressed to pick a favourite from tomorrow's encounter, it might just be Chennai. They too possess a hard-hitting batting line-up, with powerful batsmen sprinkled all the way through the batting order, and the likes of Matthew Hayden, MS Dhoni, Andrew Flintoff, Albie Morkel and Suresh Raina will look to take advantage of Delhi's inexperienced bowling attack. Delhi chose not to play Glenn McGrath in their opening game and the younger fast bowlers struggled to contain Punjab's openers until Daniel Vettori came into the picture.
Player form guide
Chennai: Hayden is currently the highest runscorer in the league, with 109 runs at a strike-rate of nearly 156 in two games. He wrecked Bangalore by scoring 65 off 35 balls but even that effort wasn't enough to clinch the Player-of-the-Match award. That honour went to Murali, who knocked Bangalore out with a spell off 3 for 11 in four overs.
Delhi: Vettori single-handedly changed the course of the match against Punjab. He struck with his first ball and finished with figures of 3 for 15. Sehwag continued the form he showed in New Zealand, hitting his first ball of the tournament for six and ended with an unbeaten 38 off 16 balls.
Watch out for
Albie Morkel: He didn't play the first game because his kit was lost in transit and came into bat only in the final over against Bangalore. His hitting talent hasn't been harnessed by Chennai as yet and many feel his abilities are being wasted coming in so late in the innings.
Daniel Vettori: He may be the key to containing Chennai's powerhouses. Flintoff and Morkel are far more comfortable freeing their arms against the faster bowlers and Sehwag might have to think about when to use the four overs from his most valuable bowler.
Team-mates from two countries will square off against each other with Dilshan facing Murali and de Villiers trying to get the better of Morkel. Incidentally, Morkel said he wouldn't be sharing too many secrets about his South African team-mates on instructions from the board.
Delhi may be tempted to bring in Australians David Warner and Glenn McGrath but otherwise there is no need for any changes. If Warner plays, Tillakaratne Dilshan would make way from the middle order and Gautam Gambhir would slip down to No. 3. Given they are playing a form Chennai, Delhi may opt for the experience of McGrath. Dirk Nannes would then warm the bench.
Delhi: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag (capt), 2 David Warner, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Daniel Vettori, 9 Yo Mahesh, 10 Avishkar Salvi, 10 Pradeep Sangwan, 11 Glenn McGrath.
There are no foreseeable changes here.
Chennai: (probable) 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 Parthiv Patel, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 5 Andrew Flintoff, 6 Albie Morkel, 7 S Badrinath, 8 Joginder Sharma, 9 L Balaji, 10 Manpreet Gony, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.
Chennai and Delhi shared one win apiece in the two matches they played against each other in the first edition of the IPL. Delhi won by four wickets in Chennai with Sehwag and Gambhir sharing a century opening stand. Chennai beat Delhi by four wickets at the Kotla , winning a thriller off the final ball.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo