Delhi Daredevils’ South African all-rounder JP Duminy had a prolonged batting session on Wednesday.
There were two reasons. He had not played the first game against Kolkata Knight Riders as he was not match fit and the session ensured he got into the groove. The second reason was Thursday, the eve of Daredevils’ match against Kings XI Punjab at the Kotla, was Duminy’s 32nd birthday and he took the day off.
Duminy was initially a touch circumspect during Wednesday’s nets session and played close to his body. As he settled down, the South African picked up his spots well and began playing the lofted shots. His absence against KKR had exposed the young Delhi middle-order and it crumbled.
Daredevils losing matches doesn’t raise many eyebrows these days. Last season they had won just five of their 14 league games under Duminy’s captaincy. But having instilled fresh blood into the squad this season and under a new captain in Zaheer Khan, Daredevils will want to turn things around quickly.
Daredevils’ fortunes will depend a lot on Duminy’s form. Last season, Duminy scored 414 runs in 14 matches at an average of 41.40. It included four half-centuries. He was second only to Shreyas Iyer in the line-up, who had scored 439.
In Duminy, Delhi have a batsman who can be sent in at any position. Duminy had batted between No.3 and 7 last year and in most of those games, he got vital runs. Duminy has shown application against spinners and can also clear the rope with ease in the slog overs.
For country too
Duminy, barring the last few games in 2015, had been resurrecting the side building important partnerships.
Not just in the IPL, Duminy was in stellar form for South Africa too. Though the Proteas couldn’t make it to the semifinals of the recently-concluded World T20 Duminy’s late push in the batting order had seen the side post 229 against England. In the warm-up game against India also, Duminy had scored 67 and bowled a couple of overs.
Who to rest?
But to include Duminy in the 11, Zaheer might have to bench one of his two overseas pacers Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris. That could be a blessing in disguise. Duminy’s inclusion will give Zaheer an off-spin option to add to his two spinners in leggie Amit Mishra and left-arm orthodox Pawan Negi. All three could come in handy on a Kotla wicket that is likely to assist turn.
Duminy’s off-spin could particularly challenge KXIP skipper and swashbuckling batsman David Miller as the ball will spin away from the left-hander. Carlos Brathwaite can Zaheer himself could handle the medium pace department.