For those who’ll throng the Kotla on Friday night, comes the distressing news that two of India’s idols, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will be sitting out with injuries.
Suresh Raina, who’ll lead the Chennai Super Kings, has called it a great opportunity though — he led Central Zone with mixed results in Deodhar Trophy recently — and has been told by MSD “to keep things simple and stay bindaas”.
“We’ll miss Dhoni, no doubt. He played so well in the last game. But I do have plenty of players with experience,” said Raina. In Dhoni’s absence, Parthiv Patel will keep wickets and also open.
The injury to Gambhir was termed as “reasonably serious” by Daredevils’ assistant coach, Eric Simons, on Thursday afternoon and it will be interesting to see who walks in to open with Virender Sehwag.
Australian David Warner is waiting in the wings but to include him would mean dropping one foreign recruit to stick to the limit of four players. Rajat Bhatia could step in to fill the void and Simons made it evident by bringing him to the press meet.
On paper, the two teams look balanced. The Super Kings’ batting matches the Daredevils’ but that’s not the case with the bowling.
Taken apart in the first game, the Super Kings came back, quite sensationally, against the Knight Riders. However, Muttiah Muralitharan and Lakshmipathy Balaji will expect more support from the frontline bowlers - Albie Morkel, Manpreet Gony and Sudip Tyagi. In contrast, Daredevils’ Nannes and Maharoof form a better pair with the new ball.
Besides the contest, Matthew Hayden’s mongoose bat, if he uses it, could be the attraction.
“He says he is finding it good. Will he use it tomorrow, can’t say for sure,” said Raina.
But one thing is for sure, you can’t bet on who’ll win. This is Twenty20 cricket where one game can change the momentum. A game before their last, the Super Kings were down and the Daredevils on a high. Now, it is the other way round.