A performance so characteristic of them was followed by a performance so uncharacteristic. Delhi Daredevils were familiarly listless against Kolkata Knight Riders, but they were refreshingly clinical against Kings XI Punjab. But until and unless they stitch together a few successive wins, suggestions of a new dawn should be kept aside, though they seem a considerably improved side this term, ably guided by mentor Rahul Dravid.
Their performance against Royal Challengers Bangalore — who with their power-packed top-order are among the early favourites — would be a better yardstick to measure their progress (or the lack of it). RCB, still in pursuit of their maiden title, has been one of their bogey sides, their last win over them coming as far back as the 2010 edition. In 15 meetings, they have won only four of their 15 fixtures against the Bangalore side, and three of them had come in the first three meetings. It has been their graveyard of sorts.
Irrespective of whether the curators prepare featherbeds or not, RCB has a batting unit that can terrorise most bowling combinations. The form they have been in is an even more dangerous portent. Well, Chris Gayle hasn’t quite showcased his faculty since that century in the T20 World Cup, but both AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli have been in disturbingly sumptuous form, as the hapless Sunrisers bowlers would confide the othe night. But their menace doesn’t stop with them-following them are Shane Watson and Sarfaraz Khan, who plastered an unbeaten 35 off 10 balls against Sunrisers. Forget them firing in unison, if one of the top three eats up a considerable share of the bowling, Delhi bowlers could feel as demotivated as the Sunrisers lot.
Delhi can’t brag about such nuclear-tipped ammunition, save for Carlos Brathwaite. Nonetheless, they have batsmen who can pile up misery, may be not to that explosive levels as the RCB crew, but still more than canny. Quinton de Kock is definitely a match-winner in shorter versions, Shreyas Iyer is perhaps the most complete of India’s Gennext batsmen, Sanju Samson and JP Duminy can coolily orchestrate chases, but they sure do lack the X-factor that Bangalore oozes with. If Delhi are to arrest their losing streak against Bangalore, they will have to accomplish it with considerable assistance from their bowlers.
On the back of the comprehensive display against Kings XI Punjab, it can be safely assumed that Delhi have a well-rounded bowling stock, spearheaded by Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra. The latter’s four-for overshadowed the efforts of Zaheer and Chris Morris, whose services would be as crucial as Mishra’s. Morris is a valuable option at the death, while off-spinner Jayant Yadav’s performances have been on upward curve.
Bangalore, though, have some pressing issues to address with regards to the bowling combination. Against Hyderabad in the previous game, all but Shane Watson were on the expensive side.
News from the bench
Delhi might likely go with an unchanged side, while Bangalore would mull in including Badree. If the latter is to be drafted in, it surely would be at the expense of Adam Milne, their fourth overseas player. In that case, they have to also pick an Indian seamer, which if they decide so will be Varun Aaron.