Preview: Kochi vs Delhi, Match 36

April 30, 2011

It might be a battle between the bottom-scrapers of the current IPL points table, but with each of Kochi and Delhi having come half-way through the league stage, both still have a chance to turn things around in the other half and make a strong bid for the play-offs. For both, the second half of the IPL will be a chance to start afresh and set things that didn’t go according to plan right.

Kochi Tuskers:

Kochi might be under the pump with two straight losses – including an embarrassing 74 all out against Deccan – but it must not be forgotten that they had the form and quality to beat Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata on the trot right before those losses. Kochi have done well when their top order has fired, and have faltered when the top order has not done well. The opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Mahela Jayawardene will be the key for Kochi. Jayawardene has had an up-and-down IPL so far, while McCullum has had good success. When both fired together, Kochi pulled off a stunning upset against Mumbai and that is a clear indication of the difference they make to the team. Ravindra Jadeja has also had a quiet few games after his blazing start, and his team needs his finishing along with the opening combination’s start.

The bowling has held up pretty well, and especially so on a responsive home wicket. Both RP Singh and Sreesanth found their bowling rhythm back in the previous match, but it remains to be seen how they perform when the wicket doesn’t help them as much. Vinay Kumar has been the most impressive of Kochi’s bowlers so far, with consistent performances.

Delhi Daredevils:

Delhi have the same issue as Kochi, in that their opening combination is vital to their success. When Sehwag and Warner fire together – as they did against Punjab – Delhi look unstoppable, but they have both not fired as often as Delhi would like. Sehwag has got several starts which he failed to convert, with the knocks against Bangalore and Kolkata in particular being crucial. Both times he got off to a good start but fell and both matches were fairly close affairs. If he had stayed for a longer period it is likely that Delhi would have won at least one of those matches and possibly both. As it stands now, they are at the bottom of the table and need their captain to guide them through a better second half. Delhi’s batting order too could do with a re-look. Venugopal Rao has been in good form and he needs to come in the top four, which has not always happened.

Possibly the best news for Delhi though, was the form displayed by Irfan Pathan in their last match against Kolkata. Irfan looked to have re-discovered his swing and he has always been a different bowler when the ball swings. Given how the pitch at Kochi behaved in the last match, Delhi will be glad that they have an array of seamers to choose from.

Seamers in focus:

This match will see several of India’s on-the-fringe seamers take the field. Sreesanth has cemented his Test spot but is still a far from automatic limited-overs pick. Then there are the likes of Vinay Kumar, RP Singh and Irfan Pathan – each of whom would be hoping to make a come-back. There’s also the veteran Ajit Agarkar and the hard-working Ashok Dinda, along-with the new headline-grabbing Varun Aaron. Each of these seamers has a chance of impressing the selectors. Some may have a greater probability than others of being selected, but the best way to impress the world is by out-gunning your competition.

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