July 06 2020
A no-holds-barred contest in the offing
22 May 2012

Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, occupying the top two positions in DLF-IPL 2012 league, played well within themselves in the concluding games against Kings XI Punjab and Pune Warriors respectively. For these two sides engaged in the first play-off to decide one finalist, the breather will have helped players recover energy and hunger to perform before the big match on Tuesday.

The winner is rewarded with a direct entry into the final, the loser gets a second chance (against Eliminator winner — Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians) to become the second finalist. Tuesday's tussle will thus see aggressive DD and KKR going all out at a neutral venue without fear of failure. Adapting to a tricky track, allied with temperament to cash in on breakthroughs will decide the outcome.


Pune's spanking new Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, where the ball comes slowly off the wicket, at times keeps low, represents a challenge of a different kind. Bowlers may rule in this contest between DD and KKR, packed with batting heavyweights — Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Gautam Gambhir, Brendon McCullum, Jacques Kallis — to name a few.

Twenty20 is loaded in favour of batsmen, yet bowlers have gained more than a toehold in IPL-V and many are match-winners. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the standout performer with subtle movement off the seam for the home team Pune Warriors India at Sahara Stadium.

Daredevils has in Irfan Pathan a clever operator capable of taking advantage of available conditions and making shot-making difficult.

Laxmipathy Balaji in the KKR camp has a knack for frustrating batsmen by denying them the length to drive. KKR appears to be better prepared to exploit slow turners, going by the team's showing in two away games heading into the play-offs (against Mumbai Indians and Pune Warriors) on tracks offering assistance to tweakers.

The West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine has done enough damage on debut IPL season by taunting batting icons with turn and bounce. Rivals may play him out and target other bowlers.

For KKR, all-rounder Shakib-ul-Hasan and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla had kept MI's big-hitters admirably in check. Yusuf Pathan bowls a restrictive line with off-cutters hurled down from above eye-level.

Shakib and Abdulla can take punishment from stroke-makers without getting rattled, Pathan needs captain Gambhir's backing to do his best.

These spinners worked their charm on Pune Warriors as KKR signed off the league with a resounding victory at the Sahara Stadium. Abdulla tricked Robin Uthappa, Pathan had Michael Clarke stranded and Shakib trapped Sourav Ganguly leg before.

Each one was an established batsman, comfortable against spin and adept at footwork. Narine was unplayable (4-0-15-1), increased wickets haul to 22 and is growing in stature.

Daredevils' batsmen will face similar treatment and in Mahela Jayawardene, the team has an ace. His flair for placement, rotate the strike when rival bowlers are in control is universally respected.


Stand-in captain, during Sehwag's absence due to illness, Jayawardene's presence at the crease is crucial for the team. If the Pune wicket plays true to its reputation as a slow turner, Sehwag may bank on young spinners Shahbaz Nadeem or Pawan Negi from the start.

Daredevils captain is known for remaining a step ahead and has varied weapons in pacers — Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Irfan Pathan.

Daredevils and KKR won away games in league clashes, Sehwag leading his side to an eight-wicket win in a rain-hit tie at Eden Gardens. Gambhir won by six wickets at Ferozshah Kotla.

Tuesday's will be the third meeting between these two sides, a no-holds-barred contest at Pune between Delhi's awesome batsmen and incisive Kolkata bowlers.



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