|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Rajasthan, Delhi evenly matched
May 29, 2008 19:18 IST
A high-octane contest between two well-balanced teams is on the cards when table toppers Rajasthan Royals [Images] take on a confident Delhi Daredevils [Images] in the first semi-final of the Indian Premier League [Images] in Mumbai on Friday.
The teams, which finished first and fourth in the preliminary 56-game phase of the Twenty20 tournament, appear evenly matched ahead of what promises top-drawer stuff in front of a capacity crowd at the Wankhede stadium.
The team that holds its nerve better and grabs the chances that come its way will go through to the summit clash against the winners of the second semi-final, on May 31, between Punjab Kings Eleven and Chennai Super Kings.
The second semi-final will also be held at the Wankhede, while the final, on June 1, will be played at the D Y Patil stadium, which has a bigger crowd capacity.
The Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals, impregnable at home in Jaipur, had only three losses in their 14 preliminary phase outings and have a 1-1 head-to-head record against the Virender Sehwag-led Daredevils, who got into the last four after seven wins and 15 points to their credit.
Both lost their matches when Mumbai Indians [Images] hosted them at the D Y Patil, and must be hoping that a change in venue for the knock-out round will bring happy tidings.
While both teams depended on their top-orders to fire and pile big totals, their middle orders looked a bit under-prepared when the chips were down.
Tracks at the Wankhede for the IPL have helped the seam bowlers, providing lateral movement and extra bounce, and bowlers of the calibre of Delhi Daredevils' Glenn McGrath should relish rolling his arm over.
The battle between McGrath, with support from Sri Lankan Farveez Maharoof and V Yo Mahesh, and Rajasthan's successful innings launchers, Graeme Smith [Images] (416 runs) and Swapnil Asnodkar, could be crucial to the game's outcome.
The same applies to the Sohail Tanvir-Shane Watson-Munaf Patel combine, which will be up against the marauding Delhi opening pair of Gautam Gambhir [Images] (523) and Sehwag (403), as well as another in-form batsman at number three, Shikhar Dhawan.
Tanvir, with his extra quick bowling arm action, similar to that of his Pakistani countryman Wasim Akram, is the revelation in the IPL. He was hardly collared by any batting line-up, as indicated by his superb haul of 21 wickets at just 10 runs per victim.
The left armer was outstanding, both in the beginning and at the death, and is a major threat that needs to be negotiated well by the Delhi batsmen, who did not play him in the previous two clashes.
Rajasthan possess a better spin attack in the great Warne and his understudies, Yousuf Pathan and Dinesh Salunkhe, while Delhi depend on Amit Mishra for the most part, with Sehwag chipping in with his off breaks. But seam bowlers are expected to play a bigger role at the Wankhede.
Delhi had a sizeable break of five days going into the semi-final while Rajasthan, without a few key players, including Warne, were outclassed by Punjab King's XI on Wednesday.
Winning the toss and fielding first has become the order of the day for matches that commence at 2000 IST and the trend is likely to continue on Friday.
Barring light drizzles, Mumbai has been largely rain-free and the IPL authorities must be hoping that the weather remains clear over the next few days. The high prevailing humidity though is an indicator that rain is around the corner.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag [Images] (c), Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Rajat Bhatia, A b de Villiers, Tillakratne Dilshan, Dinesh Karthik [Images] (wk), Brett Geeves, Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof, V Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Pradeep Sangwan, Mayank Tehlan, Manoj Tiwary.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Warne [Images] (c), Graeme Smith, Swapnil Asnodkar, Kamran Akmal, Yousuf Pathan, Mohd. Kaif, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Niraj Patel, Sohail Tanvir, Siddharth Trivedi, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel [Images], Mahesh Rawat, Dinesh Salunkhe, Morne Morkel, Taruwar Kohli.
Umpires: Rudi Koerzen and Billy Bowden
Third umpire: Billy Doctrove
Match referee: J Srinath.