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Braced for hard pitch and half a battle

David Warner, the most consistent Delhi Daredevils batsman this season, was repeatedly lofting the spinner over the nets and towards the shorter leg-side boundary. N Ananthanarayanan reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2011 00:54 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

David Warner, the most consistent Delhi Daredevils batsman this season, was repeatedly lofting the spinner over the nets and towards the shorter leg-side boundary.

The practice strip was on the edge of the square, adjacent and as grassy as the track on which the team will face the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday.

Warner scored his third half-century of this Indian Premier League season to defeat the Kings XI Punjab in the ‘battle of sixes’ on Saturday, which lifted the team from the bottom of the 10-team table.

Delhi amassed 231 with skipper Virender Sehwag and his Aussie opening partner hammering identical 77s and Kings XI then crossed 200 before falling short.

The high scores were attributed to the firmness of the pitch, and the 23 sixes to the short boundary on one side.

On Tuesday, the focus will be on the left-handed opener in the rival camp as well, after Chris Gayle's explosive century sank the Kolkata Knight Riders, in a game that can turn out to be another clash of batsmen with the bowlers taking the back seat.

The Royal Challengers have won just two of their six matches, one of them abandoned due to rain. Delhi have also lost three of their five games and both teams are aware that the desperate race to stay among the top four to qualify for the playoffs is on.

While the bowling departments have failed to sparkle until now, the focus is more on RCB because of the presence of Zaheer Khan and skipper Daniel Vettori.

While the nature of IPL allows no room for sentiment, Delhi will be braced for many of their former players, dumped in the auctions, to find that extra motivation before their old fans.

“It will be old Delhi playing New Delhi,” joked Daredevils' coach Greg Shipperd, referring to the likes of Vettori, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers, who played for the capital's team until last year. Virat Kohli will also be playing on his home ground.

“When there is pace in the wicket, batsmen will certainly score more sixes, but I don't think that is a bad thing,” the Aussie told reporters, countering Kings XI skipper Adam Gilchrist's view that the pitch and short boundary killed the game. Whether the pitch will play slower because of a second game in four days remains to be seen.

RCB coach, Ray Jennings, was more forthcoming. “The standard of bowling hasn't been upto scratch generally in IPL. (And) I don't think you will find green wickets in India. You don't find enough grass to classify them as green wickets.”