Daredevils ready for Champions test
The pretenders take on the reigning champions in a titanic, top- of-the-table clash that will set the tone for the final dramatic week of Season 2009 for the DLF Indian Premier League.
The Delhi Daredevils have been the in-form team of Season 2009 in the DLF IPL here in South Africa since the third match of the tournament when they thrashed the Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets at Newlands in Cape Town. With 16 points from their 11 games, they are all but assured of a place in the Semi Finals, but as their narrow loss to the Kings XI Punjab in Bloemfontein on Friday proved, nothing can be taken for granted in the DLF IPL.
"We did not bat well (against the Kings XI Punjab), but our bowlers did a fantastic job and at one stage we almost won the game," said Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag. "Twenty20 is bad type of cricket because if you start losing you keep on losing, I don't want us to go that way."
Indeed, the six-wicket win by the Kings XI Punjab was revenge for that 10-wicket hiding, and the Delhi Daredevils will be seeking revenge of their own from the Rajasthan Royals as they lost the first leg by five wickets at SuperSport Park. Despite a 50 from South African AB de Villiers, the Delhi Daredevils were restricted to 143/7. However, Yusuf Pathan, who has become the go-to man for the Rajasthan Royals, bludgeoned 62 from 30 balls, including six sixes to drive his side to victory.
The Rajasthan Royals showed their champion's pedigree against the Mumbai Indians in Durban on Thursday, in what was one of the most exciting games of Season 2009 in South Africa. The record books state that they won by just two runs, but that does not tell the story of the cool head of captain and coach Shane Warne, who gave the ball to Munaf Patel for the final over.
He had been punished for 14 in his previous over, but showed a calmness to produce an over that resulted in three wickets and third place in the league table for the Rajasthan Royals. The addition of South African spinner Johan Botha, who captained South Africa to ODI success against Australia earlier this year, has strengthened the spin bowling of the Rajasthan Royals.
It would be a small exaggeration to say that this game might be a preview of next week's final.