Virender Sehwag will sit out of a second game as Delhi Daredevils attempt to register their first points in the sixth edition of the Pepsi Indian Premier League when they face Rajasthan Royals, playing their first match, at Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday (April 6).
Delhi come in to the game on the back of a six-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders, the defending champions, on the opening night of the tournament. It wasn't a loss Delhi could take heart from either, as they were outplayed in all departments, with only two batsmen, Mahela Jayawardene, the captain, and David Warner, getting into double digits. The bowlers, for their part, failed to deliver when the situation demanded quick wickets. Clearly, Delhi missed the services of Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder and Morne Morkel, who were all away for a variety of reasons.
These are still early stages, but it's crucial to nip a slow start, a potential losing streak, in the bud. It is with this in mind that Delhi will host Rajasthan. However, they will have to do it without Sehwag, who top-scored for Delhi with 495 runs last season. "He (Sehwag) is not playing tomorrow as he has not fully recovered," confirmed Warner in the pre-match press conference. "He is a lot better than before although his movements have been a bit sluggish."
Against a depleted Delhi, fresh from a defeat, Rajasthan would fancy their chances. For all their travails last season, Rajasthan begin this campaign with hope. They boast a fairly competitive team, with a good mix of youth and experience. There is the spine provided by Ajinkya Rahane, who was the fourth-highest scorer last year, Rahul Dravid, the captain, Shane Watson, who is yet to join the team though, Brad Hogg and Brad Hodge. Add to that their summer signings, totalling USD 630,000, of James Faulkner, Fidel Edwards and Kusal Perera, and they have a fairly beefy unit.
Rajasthan have never had the strongest team on paper and, but for the first edition of the IPL where they were crowned champions, they've always finished sixth or below, placing seventh last season. One thing that has remained constant though, despite a change of captaincy from Shane Warne to Dravid, is their grit and team spirit.
That spirit was on display again, when Dravid backed Rahane, who came under criticism for the shoddy performance in his debut Test against Australia. "He failed (against Australia) on a bad wicket," said Dravid. "His performance in that Test should not be taken seriously. He got an opportunity to play in the Indian team because he had scored lot of runs in the domestic cricket. I'm sure he will get more chances to represent the side."
Sehwag and Rahane were the top-scorers for their sides in this fixture last year, which Delhi won by a run off the last ball. In the corresponding fixture in Jaipur, Delhi thrashed Rajasthan, prevailing by six wickets.
Rajasthan will hope for better luck this time.
Teams (from): Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), David Warner, Virender Sehwag, Unmukt Chand, Kedar Jadhav, Andre Russell, Naman Ojha (wk), Irfan Pathan, Johan Botha, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav, Ashish Nehra, Jeevan Mendis, Ajit Agarkar, CM Gautam (wk), Manprit Juneja, Pawan Negi Royston Dias, Siddarth Kaul, Sujit Nayak, Y Venugopal Rao, Yogesh Nagar.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (capt) Ajinkya Rahane, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Amit Singh, Ashok Menaria, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Harmeet Singh, Praveen Tambe, Rahul Shukla, S Sreesanth, Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson, Shreevats Goswami, Siddharth Trivedi, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Fidel Edwards, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Kusal Perera, Owais Shah, Samuel Badree, Shane Watson, Shaun Tait.