Till some time back, Delhi Daredevils would have been the opponent of choice for most teams in the Indian Premier League 2013, given that they seemed unable to pull out a win, no matter what the circumstances. However, after three wins in four matches in the last fortnight, Delhi have lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and are looking like the dangerous side they were expected to be.
Consequently, there will be no lowering of guard by Sunrisers Hyderabad when Delhi travel to Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal for their clash on Saturday.
Hyderabad themselves have turned around after two losses on the trot with a fine seven-wicket win against the formidable Mumbai Indians in the familiar environs of Uppal, where they have yet to lose a game this season.
Before the season, they were rank underdogs, and after a few matches, the imbalance between their batting and bowling line-ups became rather stark. That the team continued to scrape through and win often was purely because it possessed the best bowling attack in the tournament. However, the arrival of Darren Sammy and the return of Shikhar Dhawan have added considerable teeth to Hyderabad's batting in recent times. If Kumar Sangakkara, the designated captain, finds his form, then the batting unit will really be in business.
The bowlers, as expected, have rarely failed, even when the conditions haven't assisted them. Amit Mishra has complemented Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma superbly, and Hyderabad have also been well served by the contributions of Karan Sharma and Thisara Perera.
The bowlers will have to do the job once more against a Delhi batting unit that's finding its form as a group. Virender Sehwag has blown hot and cold, but as he showed against Mumbai, teams just cannot write him off. David Warner, comfortably the team's highest scorer overall, has carried the batting and scored at least 40 runs in each of Delhi's last three matches.
Delhi might want to cast an eye over the composition of their bowling attack though. They have persisted with Ashish Nehra, but it might be time to give young Siddharth Kaul another go. Kaul played only one match and bowled two overs - one of which was a maiden - and deserves more chances, especially after a sterling domestic season.
An attack led by Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav, with Irfan Pathan, Shahbaz Nadeem and Kaul as back-up, could give even Hyderabad's bowlers a run for their money. Nadeem's left-arm spin has allowed Delhi to strengthen the batting and include Ben Rohrer instead of Johan Botha or Roelof van der Merwe, and the combination of overseas players should stay the same with Rohrer joining Warner, Morkel and Mahela Jayawardene, the captain.
Delhi still have an outside chance of making a bid for the playoffs if they win each of their remaining matches, while Hyderabad are locked in a tight battle further upwards on the table. The last time these two teams, led by old friends and Sri Lanka team-mates Sangakkara and Jayawardene, clashed, a low-scoring thriller was played out with Hyderabad winning in Delhi. Keeping the changed circumstances on the points table in mind, everything indicates another tightly-fought match.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), Cameron White, Thisara Perera, Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Hanuma Vihari, Akshath Reddy, Biplab Samantray, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, Amit Mishra, Dale Steyn, Nathan McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Anand Rajan, Chris Lynn, Darren Sammy, Ashish Reddy, Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma, Sachin Rana, Sudeep Tyagi, Veer Pratap Singh, Thalaivan Sargunam, Ankit Sharma.
Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), David Warner, Morne Morkel, Johan Botha, Roelof van der Merwe, Andre Russell, Jeevan Mendis, Virender Sehwag, Naman Ojha, Manprit Juneja, Varun Aaron, Ajit Agarkar, Gulam Bodi, Unmukt Chand, Royston Dias, CM Gautam, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Siddarth Kaul, Shahbaz Nadeem, Yogesh Nagar, Sujit Nayak, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Aristh Singhvi, Umesh Yadav, Bharat Chipli.
Story first published on: Saturday, 04 May 2013 09:22 IST