Punjab in do-or-die scenario
May 15, 2009
Start time 16.30 (14.30 GMT, 20.00 IST)
It's a do-or-die match for Kings XI Punjab in this, the last lap of the league matches, and they could not have asked for tougher opposition. Yuvraj Singh and his men have been indifferent throughout the tournament and it will be up to the captain to rally his troops if they are to make giant strides from their current second-last position to a top four spot. But the going promises to get tougher with matches against the top tier teams still to come. The confidence from a win here could provide the fuel for the final push.
Delhi have been on song with near-flawless performances this season. They were outdone on two occasions by brilliant individual performances - succumbing to Shadab Jakati while chasing 164 versus Chennai and to Yusuf Pathan's late tornado while defending against Rajasthan. AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan have been magnificient in the middle order while the bowlers have backed them up suitably and played a big part in the team's success. Virender Sehwag's lack of runs and Gautam Gambhir's lack of authority at the top have been minor concerns for Delhi.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Delhi Daredevils: WWWWL
There seems to be no apparent problem - the title favourites tag gaining further credence with their remarkable win against Deccan - but Delhi would be wary of complacency. With the teams separated by a few points in the table, they would look to stay in pole position and seal their passage to the final four with a win here.
Kings XI Punjab: LWLLW
Bowling has been the biggest letdown for Kings XI Punjab. Yusuf Abdulla, Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla seem to have run out of steam after a promising start. The rest of the pack have had forgettable performances - notably Sreesanth and VRV Singh. With matchwinners aplenty in the batting department, Yuvraj would believe a collective effort which results in a big score may just be the only way to ensure maximum points.
Watch out for
Virender Sehwag: Expect some fireworks from the Delhi captain who has not had a standout innings as yet. The captain would be keen to cash in on Punjab's weak bowling and bat himself into form. Incidentally, his highest score of the tournament came against the same opposition in a rain-marred match in Cape Town.
Sreesanth has received more hurt, following his recuperation from the stress fracture to the back. With two wickets from the four matches at 69.50 at an economy rate of 10.69, he will surely make way for Abdulla, their leading wicket-taker, who has sat out the last three games. Word is also not out on Mahela Jayawardene's availability after picking up a hamstring injury. Vikramjeet Malik may be drafted in to aid Abdulla's inclusion.
Kings XI Punjab (probable): 1 Sunny Sohal, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Karan Goel, 5 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Brett Lee, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 VRV Singh, 10 Vikramjeet Malik, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.
Delhi have been on song throughout this season and it is unlikely that they will change the winning XI. Sehwag, though, might bat higher, up from the No. 5 he came in at in the last match.
Delhi Daredevils (probable): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 David Warner, 3 Virender Sehwag (capt), 4 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Rajat Bhatia, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Pradeep Sangwan, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Dirk Nannes.
Stats and trivia
A rained-out affair at Newlands saw Delhi prevailing by 10 wickets via the D/L method. 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. The second game was marred by weather and Punjab won by six runs under the D/L method after Delhi had scored 118 for 4 in 11 overs.
Judhajit Basu is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo