As the cricketing extravaganza, Indian Premier League (IPL) heads to the second half, Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions on Thursday head to clash at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in the capital to keep their hopes alive for the race to play-offs.
With still no word on the availability of Zaheer Khan — suffered hamstring injury — standing Captain Karun Nair will have to once again step for the Delhi Daredevils playing in front the home crowd.
Languishing at the bottom half of the points table, Suresh Raina led Gujarat Lions cannot afford to lose any game if they want to claim to have any chances of qualifying as the final four for the coveted IPL trophy.
Delhi Daredevils get into the game with their chin up after they defeated defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets on Tuesday with a good all round performance. Chasing a good total of 185 runs the home side reached the target with 5 balls spare in the game.
Batting Coach Rahul Dravid must have been pretty pleased with that and will want the team to keep mirroring the performance.
Delhi has five games to play before the cards for playoffs are drawn. With 5 games still to be played — 4 at home ground — Daredevils will have to make the most of the home conditions.
As per reports, Delhi will not be able to avail the services of experienced skipper Zaheer Khan — Hamstring injury; this means Karun Nair will once again have to step up for the cause as he did against KXIP and SRH on last two fixtures.
To make the matter worse, Delhi is also facing the problem to pick the best playing XI. Coach Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid will require addressing the issue as the tournament is narrowing down and they have to release some of its key foreign players — Sam Billings (England) has already left for national duty; Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) are available only for a week.
This leaves Delhi to open the innings with Sanju Samson and skipper Karun Nair.
Samson has been in a good form — 313 runs in 9 matches —throughout the season giving Delhi the essential starts early in the innings, however, the Impressive right-handed batsman is also throwing away his wicket in an attempt to score more boundaries per over.
Karun Nair will have to ask Samson to stick around and play a longer inning, while he can take calculated risks from the other end. Both Nair and Samson need to fire if the Delhi franchise needs to be here for a longer overhaul.
— The Gujarat Lions (@TheGujaratLions) May 4, 2017
Similarly, the middle order also needs to stroke essential contributions. It’s high time that the talent of Shreyas Iyer, Rishab Pant comes to fore and they start putting a value to their wicket, instead choosing to throw away a good start. Both Rishab and Iyer played a very important inning against SRH in their last encounter. Rahul Dravid will want both of them to back their instincts and keep anchored to the wicket.
The bowling department of Delhi Daredevils — Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Mohammed Shami — is strong and fiery.
Captain Karun Nair will have to use the services wisely in the Kotla pitch that offers some late movement to the Seamers.
Jayant Yadav is most likely to be picked ahead of Amit Mishra and Angelo Mathews must be given a game before he wears out a seat in the dugout. Both Mathews and Jayant can prove out to be the very helpful in providing the breakthroughs and contain the leak to runs during the middle of the innings.
Speaking of the opponents, Gujarat Lions are having a nightmare so far in the IPL. It seems nothing really is going their way at the moment.
The team is languishing in the bottom half of the points table; have lost close encounter; have lost after putting a good score on the board, and Jason Roy too has left the team for national duty.
Coach Brad Hodge and skipper Suresh Raina are in dire need of the change of fortune if they want to make it to the playoffs.
Gujarat has a very deep batting line-up and has scored a good number of runs on the board far in the tournament.
Batting up the order Brendon McCullum — 319 runs in 10 matches — and Suresh Raina — 318 runs in 10 matches — are in absolutely fine shape and rhythm.
Ishan Kishan opens the inning along with McCullum has been very instrumental in taking Gujarat off to a good start within the first six overs. Raina should ask the young left-handed Kishan to play freely but not in a rush.
The middle order of Gujarat boasts of the likes of Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik. Together the three have scored 515 runs (it’s T20 cricket) in total for the Gujarat Lions so far — add to that the all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja and James Faulkner.
The bowling attack of Gujarat has looked ordinary except for Basil Thampi who has impressed everyone — 8 wickets in 9 matches — with his performance this season. Rest of the bowlers appear to be playing second fiddle to Thampi in the team.
Coach Brad Hodge will require going back to the drawing board to figure a way out for Gujarat’s bowling headache.
With a team like that, it is highly unlikely why Gujarat is having such a bad time in the field — because the team loses their nerves under pressure.
Gujarat Lions has to pull their performance and mostly their game during the cusp moments in the game. Captain Raina should strategically use his resources to get the most out of his unit.
Both the captains will like to chase the total after winning the toss at Ferozeshah Kotla. The pitch will offer some early movement to the seam bowlers and bounce for the spinners.
Having not faced each other this IPL season, the encounter is slated to be an exciting meet, given the fact that both Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions have so much at stake at tonight’s clash.
For a short closure, desperate times call for desperate measures — in this case, scintillating cricket.