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The top two teams at the end of the league stage – Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders – go head-to-head in the first of the DLF IPL Playoffs 2012.
Undoubtedly, DD and KKR have looked the best teams in the competition; the former sit at the top of the table with 11 wins from 16 league fixtures, while the latter have one point less and have won 10 of their 16 league fixtures (including the abandoned game against the Deccan Chargers).
However, both teams will be conscious of the fact that they’ve not been very convincing in their last few league matches. The Delhi Daredevils had won eight of their first ten matches, but since then they’ve only managed to win three of their remaining six fixtures. What should worry the DD management is that both, the batting and bowling units have failed in their last three defeats.
Despite finishing the league season with consecutive victories, Kolkata Knight Riders will know they weren’t at their best in their last few league fixtures. The batting certainly hasn’t looked as formidable as it did during their eight-match unbeaten streak and they will need their batsmen to come out firing at this important stage in the competition.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 08:00 p.m.
Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune
In a format where opening batsmen often dictate the course of the match, it is only fair to keep a close watch on them, more so if they happen to be Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Brendon McCullum and Gautam Gambhir.
As compared to previous IPL seasons, Sehwag has looked a completely different batsman. One got the impression he lacked the hunger for runs when he came out to bat in the previous seasons, but this season, one has seen intent and the determination to do well for his team. His application reflects in the fact that this is his most successful IPL season and he is his team’s highest run-getter despite missing the last two league matches due to illness. The DD skipper, though, has only managed 16 runs in his last three innings and would want to return to top form in this important fixture.
David Warner may only be 5’6” tall, but he is among the most destructive openers in the world. The Australian has already played two match-winning knocks this season and he will be keen to perform yet again in this high-stakes match.
The record for the highest individual score in Twenty20 cricket still lies with Brendon McCullum. His unbeaten 158 in the very first IPL fixture shows what kind of damage he is capable of inflicting on bowling attacks. Though he didn’t do much in the first half of the season, McCullum – like all great players – has come to the party at just the right time. After scoring 83 runs in his first seven innings at less than a run a ball, McCullum has raised his game to score double that number in the next five innings – at a strike-rate of 108.
Gautam Gambhir might not send shivers down the spine of bowlers like the other three openers in the match, but he can certainly cause as much damage. KKR have done well every time he has scored runs at the top of the order and have struggled every time he has failed. Given the intensity of his character and how much he values his wicket, expect him to come out with a lot of purpose and lead by example.
Though both teams have very good bowling attacks, KKR will feel they have an edge because of the quality spinners in their line-up and the slow surface they’re likely to encounter at Pune. Sunil Narine has mesmerised batsmen right through the tournament, while in Iqbal Abdulla, Shakib al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan they have an able support cast in the spin department.
The head-to-head record between the Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders stands at four matches apiece.
When these two teams clashed in the league stage, it was the visiting team that prevailed on both occasions. In the first meeting at the Eden Gardens, the Delhi Daredevils recorded an eight-wicket win in a rain-affected match, while in the return fixture at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, KKR chased down 154 to win by six wickets.
• In the two matches between DD and KKR played at neutral venues – in Durban and Johannesburg in IPL 2009 – the former emerged victorious on both occasions.
• DD have the second best scoring rate of all the teams in IPL 2012 – 8.33.
• DD have lost the fewest wickets of all the teams in IPL 2012; they’ve only lost 76 wickets in 15 league fixtures.
• KKR have the best overall bowling economy rate of all the teams in IPL 2012 – 6.99.
• KKR have won seven of their eight away matches this season.
The winner of this contest progresses straight to the DLF IPL 2012 Final on May 27, while the losing team will have another opportunity of making it to the title clash when they compete against the winners of the Eliminator in Qualifier 2 scheduled for May 25.
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.