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April 3, 2010
Match factsSunday, April 4
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Big PictureJust past the half-way stage, things are looking good for Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore. They are both tied on wins and points after playing the same number of matches, and Bangalore lead by the slenderest of margins on net run-rate.
Delhi have pulled up their socks after a short sag and their bowling is back on track too, despite the continued absence of Ashish Nehra. They have three home games remaining and should look to use that advantage, and the buoyant Kotla crowd, to add to their five wins. They are a safe bet for the semi-finals, especially now that Daniel Vettori has arrived. AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan are still warming the bench but these are two players who will prove very valuable when the action heats up in the latter stages.
Bangalore, who also have three home games to go, are also certain for the semis. Their batting is solid, they have one of the better bowling attacks, and they have all their bases covered in 2010. With Ross Taylor also available, Bangalore just got stronger.
Make-up wise, both sides are similar. They both have a strong opening combination and middle order, legspinners in form, and potent new-ball pairs. Where Delhi hold the advantage is that both their openers are capable of winning matches on their own and that they now have the option to include international Twenty20s best slow bowler, Vettori. Sehwag hasn't fired for a while now and he's openly set his sights on regaining his form with the bat. Potentially bad news for Bangalore.
Team talkVettori's arrival gives Delhi a big boost, and so the man to miss out would be Andrew McDonald who hasn't done anything wrong. Vettori alongside Amit Mishra makes for a formidable spin attack, and Dirk Nannes is fit for selection too.
Bangalore didn't play Ross Taylor in their last game considering he'd only reached India 24 hours prior, but now that he's had time to rest up the New Zealand batsman should slot in at the expense of Cameron White. White has done his job in the two chances they got, but he will likely be benched given the success Taylor has had in the IPL.
Head to headDelhi 4 Bangalore 1
In the spotlightGautam Gambhir: After being reprimanded for his comments during the post-match presentation following the big win over Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday night, expect Delhi's captain to reply with the bat. Gambhir has one match-winning half-century and a crucial 43, at the either end of an absence through injury, but because of Delhi's other heavyweights his strength hasn't exactly been missed. Knowing the competitor that he is, Gambhir will be itching to make a big contribution.
Kevin Pietersen: He gave an indication of the mood he was in during the first match he played, but Pietersen showed how valuable he was when he scored his highest IPL score, against Kings XI Punjab. Forget the shoddy fielding and the drops, Pietersen's innings was a proper manual for scripting a chase. He set himself up with smart singles and doubles and a four here and there when a bad ball came about - and there were plenty - before gunning for glory in the end. His unbeaten fifty has given Bangalore's middle order a boost, and its best they use him at No.3 going forward.
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