New Delhi – Sparks are bound to fly at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Monday when table toppers Delhi Daredevils clash with second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It will be exciting stuff as India openers Virender Sehwag and his Delhi mate Gautam Gambhir try to match their wits. Both have more or less a similar run going up the ladder. Delhi have 16 points from 10 games while Kolkata have played one more game and are on 15 points.
The Daredevils have been the team to beat this season and are on a four-game winning streak. The Knight Riders after a slow start have won five consecutive matches. The last time the two teams met at the beginning of the season, Delhi triumphed in a rain-shortened match by eight wickets.
The Daredevils though will have to contend with the departure of their start batsman Kevin Pietersen. The Englishman played his last game in the tournament at Jaipur where Delhi defeated Rajasthan Royals by six wickets. Pietersen, who has scored 305 runs in this edition, has left for home to fulfill his national duties.
To fill Pitersen’s place, in comes explosive Australian David Warner , who will be playing his first IPL game this season Monday.
The Knight Riders will once again rely on their captain Gautam Gambhir, who played for Delhi for the first three editions, to give them a good start. The India international has been in sparkling form and is the third highest run getter with 421 runs.
Importantly, Gambhir has pulled KKR out of a rut they had fallen into in the last four years. They struggled to stay afloat with controversies dogging them, a fact openly acknowledged by the co- owner of the franchise Shah Rukh Khan.
Spinner Sunil Narine has been a revelation for Kolkata, picking 13 wickets with an economy rate of 5.25. But that could all change with Delhi’s captain Virender Sehwag looking to notch his sixth consecutive fifty.
The Delhi dasher has been in great touch and with 445 runs, he is just 18 runs behind orange cap holder Ajinkya Rahane of Rajasthan.
Daredevils’ South African import Morne Morkel will be the danger man for the visitors. The lanky pacer is the purple cap holder with 19 wickets at an average of 14.
Delhi though will hope New Zealand captain Ross Taylor can strike some form. Taylor has looked completely out of sorts and with the departure of Pietersen there will be added pressure on him.