Delhi eye quick path to semis
Match factsSunday, April 11
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big pictureKings XI Punjab's win over table toppers Mumbai Indians has given this north Indian clash some tadka and Delhi Daredevils, sitting at second place, have a little more reason to be wary of the underdogs. The last time these teams met, Gautam Gambhir's half-century helped Delhi to a tense final-over victory and they went on to win their next game, lost three in a row, and bounce back with four victories on the trot. Defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday interrupted their momentum but at home against Punjab, who are out for the count, they'll expect to get right back to winning ways.
Delhi are currently placed third and are two wins away from confirming their qualification for the semi-finals. Their rise to No. 2 on the points table has been based on a very strong batting order, especially the top four, and Amit Mishra's success at the start and end. Throw in consistent display from Dirk Nannes, when fit, and the odd burst from one of the Indian players, and Delhi have been a tough opposition. Defeat to Kolkata was something of a surprise, but with Virender Sehwag finally hitting some form and Nannes expected to slot back into the starting XI, signs are ominous of a well-oiled machine hitting full throttle.
Conversely, Punjab have been run ragged by anything from poor form, abysmal fielding, uninspiring leadership and reported rifts in the camp. You name it, and it's gone wrong for them. Despite trying several combinations, Punjab's woes have left them down for the count but if they can replicate the winning formula a few more times they can seriously change the shape of the points table going into the semi-finals.
Form guide (most recent first)Delhi Daredevils LWWWW
Kings XI Punjab WLWLL
Team talkDelhi have not indicated any changes. All those present, including Ashish Nehra, trained on the eve of the clash and looked match-fit. Nehra had a spring in his step and that's good news for Delhi, but he will not be available for tomorrow's match. Absent from training were Tillakaratne Dilshan - word is that he's picked up a bout of kidney trouble - and AB de Villiers and Gautam Gambhir. Sehwag spent a long time taking throwdowns from the support staff, while the other batsmen appeared to be concentrating on spin given the success of Piyush Chawla in the last game.
Punjab won't want to tinker with the unit that won them a surprise game against leaders Mumbai, though Brett Lee's continued failure to take a wicket will put pressure on him.
Previously…Punjab 3 Delhi 2
Punjab beat Delhi in both matches during the 2008 season: by four wickets at home and by six runs away. They then suffered a heavy ten-wicket loss in their first encounter in 2009 but restored the advantage by beating Delhi by six wickets. Delhi beat Punjab in their first encounter this season, by five wickets.
In the spotlightVirender Sehwag: Roused from his slumber, Sehwag gave Kolkata Knight Riders a scare with a 40-ball 64 in Delhi's last game. His dismissal, as Sourav Ganguly said with a big smile and a sigh of relief, turned the game. Now that he's managed to get a start and convert it, Sehwag should look to step on it against Punjab and go the distance. Sehwag is a player who you'd expect to win three or four games for Delhi on his own. So far he's done it just once, so …
Adrian Barath: This pocket-sized rocket produced a 27-ball 33 in his second appearance, and that was more than enough to ensure he stays in the XI. On Friday during Punjab's successful chase against Mumbai Indians, Mahela Jayawardene again appeared in fine touch as he blazed controlled boundaries either side of square. Occasionally these partnerships collapse if the more restrained partner gets jealous and tries to keep up - sensibly Barath realised Jayawardene was on song and didn't try to match him. He took a back seat for the sake of the team. When Jayawardene departed Barath took over and things moved along at the same brisk rate with the aim to build a platform for a late charge if needed. Such cool innings can only work for Punjab.
Spin at the Kotla: The track has been slowing down as the tournament has progressed - in fact Anil Kumble wasn't too pleased at the track after his team were hammered here last Sunday - and thus Delhi's duo of Mishra and Daniel Vettori will be key. Mishra bowled extensively to Vettori and Paul Collingwood at the nets, tossing the ball up frequently, and the way in which he initially had Collingwood in some trouble was indicative of what's in store. Punjab also have a good duo in Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar, making this a contest that could be decided by slow turn.
- Delhi have 52 sixes compared to Punjab's 43. Of Delhi's 52, 37 have come from Virender Sehwag (14), David Warner (13) and Paul Collingwood (10), who bat in the top four.
- Seven different batsmen - Manvinder Bisla, Ravi Bopara, Irfan Pathan, Kumar Sangakkara, Yuvraj Singh, Shaun Marsh and Mahela Jayawardene - have opened for Punjab. Delhi have used three - Sehwag, Warner and Gautam Gambhir.
- Brett Lee has yet to take a wicket after four games and his economy rate is 10.27.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo