The Kings XI Punjab are a relaxed lot. With one foot off the road to the semis, they are taking pleasure in getting in the way of the other teams. After hunting down Kolkata and Mumbai, they land in Delhi for their second tie against the Daredevils. Their first duel, a defeat, shouldn’t matter as they look a coherent unit now.
They face a difficult situation though. The Daredevils are hurting after their loss to the Knight Riders and the Kotla wicket will restrict strokeplay, one of the Kings’ strengths.
Anil Kumble termed the Kotla pitch not ideal for T20 cricket and Gautam Gambhir hinted at the same after the last match here, but Greg Shipperd, the Daredevils coach, isn’t giving it too much thought. “We have been hitting over 180. It’s just that teams couldn’t chase such big scores. There is no reason to call it non-ideal for cricket,” he said.
The Daredevils have been successful in defending totals on this track. To their advantage, Ashish Nehra, who is getting close to being fit, might get a look-in.
Nehra would be needed upfront. The Daredevils need a quality paceman to start with. Should he play, all of India will watch him and hope he performs, what with the World T20 just around the corner. The Daredevils, out of necessity, need him to deliver the goods.
Mahela Jayawardene, at the top of Punjab’s order, has been looking good and flaying bowlers to all corners of the park. He smashed Shane Bond the other day and the night before that, teammate Lasith Malinga got the same treatment. “We have thought out a strategy to stop him,” said Shipperd, without disclosing what the plan was. It will however be crucial to the Daredevils’ chances.
With 12 points and 4 league games to go, the Daredevils are still sitting pretty. They would however, want nothing more than to send Kings XI Punjab packing and seal the deal as soon as possible.