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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.
Gambhir, Narine set to make KKR’s second playoff appearance count
By Akshay Manwani
Mumbai 21 May 2012
Kolkata Knight Riders’ passionate fans are beaming and for good reason. Their side has made it to the DLF IPL Playoffs for the second year in a row. And while KKR had only one shot to make it to the 2011 final thanks to their fourth-place finish at the league stage, Gautam Gambhir’s side will have two chances of booking a spot in the 2012 final on May 27. Feisty, exciting, intense and tireless, KKR enter the playoffs focussed on the prestigious title. IPL 2012: It wasn’t the perfect start, though, for the Kolkata franchise. After a rain-truncated game saw them lose their first game to Delhi, they lost by 22 runs to Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. Laxmipathy Balaji and Gautam Gambhir then combined to give KKR their first win with a 42-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, after which Shakib Al Hasan came up with an all-round performance to help them avenge their earlier loss to RR.
Yet, it was the agonising two-run loss to Kings XI Punjab at Eden Gardens in their fifth game that helped KKR turn the corner. After losing to Adam Gilchrist’s men from a winning position, the Knights bounced back to beat KXIP in Mohali – and then Deccan Chargers, RCB and Chennai Super Kings. KKR’s match against DC in Kolkata during this period was washed out making it four wins out of five games for the buoyant side. The KKR franchise then proceeded to win the much anticipated encounter against Sourav Ganguly’s Pune Warriors India in Kolkata. Following that they handed table toppers Delhi Daredevils a six-wicket thrashing at the Feroz Shah Kotla, which rounded off a six-game winning run for them.
After a five-day gap post their win against Delhi on May 7, KKR appeared to have lost the momentum with successive defeats against Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. But with Sunil Narine setting them up for a 32-run win against MI, and Shakib Al Hasan coming up with another all-round performance against PWI, the Knights finished second in the league standings to qualify for the playoffs.
Batting star: With 556 runs against his name, Gambhir is the leading run-getter for KKR and among the five leading scorers in the competition. The skipper has shown great intent while wasting no time in going after the opposition bowlers in the tournament. His determined, unbeaten 66 in Mohali on April 18 set the Knight Riders on their winning run while his best of 93 off just 51 balls against RCB in Kolkata on April 28 was arguably the most aggressive innings of the tournament. Bowling star: Perhaps the find of the IPL, Sunil Narine was the hidden ace in the KKR bowling line-up. Foxing the batsmen with his knuckle ball, off-break and faster one, Narine has emerged as the only spinner in the five leading wicket-takers in the tournament. His economy-rate of 5.14, the best for any bowler who has bowled more than 30 overs in the 2012 IPL, proves his class in a batsman-friendly format. Narine has bowled with uncanny precision, equally at the beginning of an innings as at the death. Above all, Narine’s efficiency has allowed the Knight Riders the luxury of defending any score. X-factor: Gambhir’s captaincy was pretty much spot on right through the tournament. His decision to bowl Narine mainly at the death, along with the backing of Yusuf Pathan, highlights a leader who is not afraid to take on the odds or take difficult calls. Even at practice sessions, he can be spotted mentoring the younger members of the side. Against Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, he went one step further by handing over his Man-of-the-Match award to young Debabrata Das for taking KKR past the finish line. Gambhir’s leadership and KKR’s success have been intertwined this season. Watch out for some inspired leadership as the team heads into the playoffs.