Kotla gears up for battle of Kings and Daredevils

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/y/yuvrajipl2.jpg' class='caption'> Delhi Daredevils would be gunning for a revenge when they collide head-on with the high-flying Kings XI Punjab in a potential IPL humdinger on Saturday.

Updated: May 23, 2008 12:08 IST
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New Delhi:

A huge monkey off their back after the win against Deccan Chargers, the born-again Delhi Daredevils would be gunning for a revenge when they collide head-on with the high-flying Kings XI Punjab in a potential Indian Premier League humdinger on Saturday.

The fortnight-long nightmare, featuring four defeats on the trot, finally ended in Kotla last night and Virender Sehwag and his fellow Daredevils managed to snap the losing streak to keep alive their semifinal hopes.

The passage, however, is no more as smooth as it was at the start of this month.

Being pushed to the brink often simplifies things and the revenge-driven hosts would be looking forward to settle scores when they host Yuvraj Singh's Kings XI at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

When the two sides met first time on April 27, it was Yuvraj who was smiling at the end with his side carving out a four-wicket win with three balls to spare. Sehwag, however, made it clear that he is desperate to have the last laugh on Saturday.

"At this stage, all the matches are challenging for us. They have been on a roll but however good you maybe, someone will come and beat you hands down. Maybe we'll do it tomorrow," said the Daredevils skipper.

The hosts have won half of the 10 matches they have played so far, which places them fifth with 10 points, while the Kings XI sit pretty on the second spot with 12 points, garnered from their six wins in nine matches.

Sehwag, however, insisted that every team is in for a lean patch. "Consistency has been a problem with everyone. Every team has had a rough patch and it can happen with them as well," he said.

In fact, past performance would have little bearing when the two sides lock horns on Saturday and it may turn out to be a battle between Daredevils bowlers versus the Kings XI batsmen.

Glenn McGrath has been his parsimonious self, while Mohammad Asif's wicket-taking ability - it may not have been on display last night - remains beyond question. While Ferveez Maharoof and Rajat Bhatia have chipped in well with the cherry, Daredevils have discovered a match-winner in leggie Amit Mishra, architect of his side's last night triumph.

It's not that Daredevils are duds with the bat, especially when they have Gautam Gambhir, IPL's leading scorer, in their ranks. He and Sehwag have often finished the job, with Shikhar Dhawan chipping in when the chips are down.

Though the middle order is yet to fire on all cylinders, Sehwag believes it's because they have not had enough chance to strut their stuff.

In contrast, Punjab line-up sports a formidable look with the prolific Shaun Marsh, boasting a Bradmanesque average of 98.33, towering over all while Luke Pomersbach also looking keen to join the party. Mahela Jayawardene is slyly effective, while Yuvraj looks due for a match-winning score and all that does not make good reading for the Daredevils.

Their attack also looks perfectly balanced. Harbhajan Singh's slap seems to have done a world of good to S Sreesanth whose focus finally seems back to where it should be, while Irfan Pathan, along with Zaheer Khan, complete the IPL triumvirate with most wickets (13) against their names.

Piyush Chawla has proved that spinners are not mere cannon-fodder in this format and he would be handful again with his bag of tricks.

And finally, when McGrath opens the Daredevils attack, Shaun Marsh should not expect any avuncular favour from the elderly beanpole Aussie.

Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (Captain), Rajat Bhatia, AB de Villiers, Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Gautam Gambhir, Brett Geeves, Dinesh Karthik, Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof, V Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Asif, Pradeep Sangwan, Shoaib Malik, Mayank Tehlan, Manoj Tiwary.

Kings XI Punjab: Yuvraj Singh (Captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Ajitesh Argal, Piyush Chawla, Gagandeep Singh, Karan Goel, James Hopes, Uday Kaul, Sahil Kukreja, Shaun Marsh, Irfan Pathan, Luke Pomersbach, Kumar Sangakkara, S Sreesanth, Tanmay Srivastava.

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