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Prajakta Pawar in Mumbai 21 May 2012 - 01:24pm IST

Road to Playoffs: DD

Sehwag-powered Daredevils eye first IPL title

The Delhi Daredevils have dominated the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League and so it comes as no surprise that they hold pole position at the end of the league phase.

Having finished at the bottom of the table in 2011, they picked the best team combination for the 2012 season. Careful introspection and strategic choices have earned them league phase glory. Virender Sehawg, the biggest weapon in their artillery, was one of the top four run-scorers in the first season and held the top spot in 2009 as well. Much is expected of him as the team get into the crunch games.

The Daredevils take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first playoff in Pune. The head-to-head result for the teams reads 1-1.

IPL 2012:
The Delhi Daredevils started their campaign with two away games, winning the first against KKR and losing the next to RCB in Bangalore.

Of the five losses that the table-toppers have faced only two have been at home. The Royal Challengers Bangalore are the only team against whom they have lost both their matches.

Irfan Pathan got DD off to a winning start with a 42-run 20-ball cameo after Morne Morkel helped wrap up the KKR innings for a paltry 97. The pace whiz from South Africa won them their first home game, against CSK, while left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem impressed with a 3-0-9-0 in the same match. The left-arm spinner was their Man-of-the-Match when they beat the Mumbai Indians in their own backyard next.

Kevin Pieterson, who joined the side along with vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene in DD’s third game of the tournament, helped register a five-wicket win over DC, while the latter has anchored quite a few DD innings. Pietersen was replaced by the explosive opener David Warner who was instrumental in defeating DC with a 109-run innings. But skipper Virender Sehwag, who won them three consecutive games – against PWI, MI and RR – was the one who made them serious contenders for a place in the playoffs.

Apart from the senior pacemen, young Umesh Yadav played a significant role by claiming three wickets each time against KXIP and helped dismiss the opposition for modest totals.

Batting star: Skipper Virender Sehwag is undoubtedly the team’s batting mainstay with three consecutive match-winning knocks in the middle phase. The captain scored 87 not out to beat PWI after they had been defeated at home earlier. He scored 73 to help set MI a 207-run target. He then made 63 against RR in a match that DD won by one run after setting the Royals a 152-run target.

Having played only 14 matches, Sehwag, who has scored 484 runs, is in fifth position on the Orange Cap table.

Bowling star: The Purple Cap-holder of IPL 2012 with 25 wickets from 15 matches, Morne Morkel is undoubtedly the bowling star for DD. With two for 19 against the defending champions, the South African paceman won them their first home game.

X-factor:
One of the most balanced sides in the IPL, the Daredevils have a power-packed batting line-up. Apart from the dangerous openers Sehwag and Warner, they have Ross Taylor who has struck form at the business end of the tournament with a 26-ball 55 in a closely fought encounter against RCB. DD’s top-order batting, with players boasting of big-match temperament, will be their best shot at IPL 2012 glory.


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