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Big hitting openers key for Daredevils

With 56 games in the league phase of Season 2009 done and dusted the stage is now set for four of the best teams to battle it out for the prestigious DLF Indian Premier League’s Winners Trophy for Season 2009.

With the Rajasthan Royals having been knocked out earlier one thing is certain that the Indian Premier League will have a new winner crowned on Sunday at the famous Wanderers Bull-Ring.

The four teams that have made the cut this year are the league leading Delhi Daredevils that have barely missed a trick winning 10 out of their 14 league games. In last year’s inaugural season of the DLF Indian Premier League the Delhi Daredevils had managed to win a mere seven league games out of 14 to scrape into the fourth semi-final spot by a single point. But this time around in Season 2009 of the DLF IPL here in South Africa the Delhi Daredevils seem to be on fire.

Last year’s losing finalists and this year’s second placed Chennai Super Kings have also not disappointed their fans winning eight of their league games. The resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore under the astute leadership of Captain Anil Kumble have won games on the trot after a disappointing first half of the Season and finally we have the Deccan Chargers closing out the Semi Final line-up for Season 2009.

Coming to tomorrow’s First Semi Final – the Deccan Chargers will need to turn around a form slump which has seen them loose a total of seven games this season after starting out in amazing style, as they take on a formidable Delhi Daredevils combination.

The secret of the Delhi Daredevils’ success so far is having several players in form, and maintaining an excellent win ratio through the league phase even without the services of their captain Virender Sehwag who was out injured. Interestingly, the inform Delhi Daredevils are yet to call on the services of Australians Glenn McGrath and Andrew McDonald, with even the New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori being benched for a few games due to selection preferences.

More ominously for the Deccen Chargers blistering knocks by Captain Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in today’s last league game have marked their welcome return to form, which bodes well for a team that boasts some truly awesome talent. The Delhi Daredevils middle order has the flair and skill of AB de Villiers (the only centurion of Season 2009 up until today), Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Karthik all of whom have displayed some of the most electrifying batting this year in South Africa.

De Villiers sits second in the Orange Cap standings behind Matthew Hayden on 439 runs, and was the only century maker in Season 2009 of the DLF IPL up until Manish Pandey of the Royal Challengers Bangalore upstaged him in the last league game of the season with a well compiled 114. Dilshan is also comfortably ensconced among the top 10 leading scorers as well on 353 runs.

The bowling for the Delhi Daredevils also has not been bad either with Ashish Nehra in third place with 18 wickets in the race for the Purple Cap. He has been well supported by fellow left-arm seamer Dirk Nannes who has claimed 15 wickets, while Amit Mishra has provided his Captain a more than versatile spin option.

For the Deccan Chargers tomorrow’s First Semi Final will be an important grudge match as they have a point to prove. Especially after a diabolical collapse of the teams batting order when they had victory in sight denied the Deccan Chargers a victory the last time the two teams met on May 13th in Durban. The Deccan Chargers then were galloping towards their victory target of 174 against the league leading Delhi Daredevils, at 149-3 in the 17th over, when they suddenly lost seven wickets for 12 runs in 17 balls, to lose by 12 runs.

Gilchrist will have to show glimpses of his phenomenal hitting prowess and give the Deccan Chargers a blistering start with his opening partner Gibbs tomorrow if the Deccan Chargers are to have any chance of winning the First Semi Final. A lot would also depend on the way the Deccan Chargers middle order batsmen in Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma play tomorrow.

Gilchrist sits fourth in the race for the Orange Cap on 410 runs, while the next best Deccan Chargers batsman is Rohit Sharma, who so brilliantly finished off the game against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wanderers last Saturday and then nearly repeated the feat the following day against the Kings XI Punjab, only for his side to fall to an agonising one run defeat. Sharma’s 333 runs haven’t been his only contribution in Season 2009 of the DLF IPL. He has also taken over 11 wickets which included a hat-trick to set up a thrilling win against the Mumbai Indians.

“It starts tomorrow (Friday) again, we just have to freshen up for tomorrow. There’s four teams in it, and as we’ve seen throughout the tournament, you can beat anyone else on the night,” Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist will certainly be willing himself a big score in the knockout phase, as well as one for big Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

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