Delhi Daredevils batsman James Hopes in action during the IPL Twenty20 match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium.
As soon as the Sri Lanka cricketers were told to join the national team in England, earlier than scheduled, it was clear that the two teams with Lankans at the helm would have to change their captains towards the end of the league stage.
However, nobody had anticipated a change of guard in another team other than the Kochi Tuskers and Deccan Chargers, led by Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, respectively.
On the eve of their outing against the Chennai Super Kings at the Chidambaram Stadium, the Delhi Daredevils got into a huddle, and it was an Australian who gave the team a pep talk. With a shoulder injury ruling Virender Sehwag out for the last three matches, James Hopes has been thrust the all-important task of helping the struggling franchise finish in the middle of the points table.
Hopes, who has been more in the news for being forced to play IPL 4 by his ailing father than his all-round performances, oozes optimism, but mere hope is not going to be enough for the Daredevils if they are avoid a bottom-three finish.
Coach Greg Shipperd put up a brave front when asked about the new leader. "Hopes is an experienced campaigner and behind the scenes we do not have a captain but we have a range of people who have been given leadership opportunities in making sure that we move as a squad," he said. "Hopes has got lot of experience. His determination and abilities could help us finish the tournament as well as we can."
The Chepauk may have got a makeover, thanks to the World Cup, but that hasn't changed the Super Kings' love for the stadium. In fact, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are unbeaten on their home ground so far.
Pitted against the Daredevils, the Super Kings will be keen to earn two points and seal a berth in the playoffs. Boasting of a batting order that's as good as, if not better than, the Mumbai Indians', the hosts are ready to rumble in the ‘Lion's Den’.