Stern test for Delhi and Punjab
The preparedness and professionalism of the Kings XI Punjab will be tested on Sunday.
Whether the host can take the Harbhajan-Sreesanth spat in its stride and do the needful to end the unbeaten streak of Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League is anybody’s guess.
The host played for a much-needed victory over Mumbai Indians on Friday night but had not bargained for what followed. No wonder, coach Tom Moody put the team through a “recovery session” this afternoon ahead of the big battle. Delhi has so far won both its matches by nine wickets. That in turn means its batting depth has not been tested. Only openers Gautam Gambhir, skipper Virender Sehwag and yet-to-be dismissed Shikhar Dhawan have got opportunities to bat in the competition.
Sehwag was a touch worried about the untested middle-order but quickly added, “They are all professionals and know how to bat on Indian pitches.” Yuvraj said he had plans for Sehwag and other Delhi batsmen. “You have to make plans against every team and work to convert them on the field. We respect Delhi and know they have some good cricketers. They have had a good start while we have come back well. So it will be good contest,” predicted Yuvraj.
Sehwag dismissed suggestions of a face-off featuring the pace bowlers from both teams on a good Mohali pitch. “In twenty20 it does not matter,” declared the man in form. With the Australians Brett Lee, Simon Katich and Kyle Mills due to leave for home ahead of the series against West Indies, Punjab would be keen to get a great parting gift. Lee, on fire against Mumbai Indians on Friday night, remains the man Punjab expects to fire against a top-heavy Delhi.
Fellow-pace bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and V.R.V. Singh have not been able to impress so far in their first spells.
James Hopes, the Aussie all-rounder considered a twenty20 specialist, is another option. He did well in the first home game against Chennai Super Stars but was rested against Mumbai. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla who excelled against Mumbai, could find the going tough against Delhi’s batting might.
Delhi has so far depended almost entirely on its pace bowlers to restrict the opposition. Punjab will have to raise its batting level to come good before the Sunday crowd.