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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Sachin-Sanath face test of character against Delhi

Sachin-Sanath face test of character against Delhi

May 08, 2009 14:34 IST

The Indian Premier League match between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils at Buffalo Park in East London on Friday has all the makings of a showdown in the high street -- Dirk Nannes, rated as one of the fastest bowlers around will be up against two of the most dangerous openers the world of cricket has seen.

The obvious reference here is to the Mumbai Indian opening duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya -- who have to bat well to ensure their teams move towards a semi-finals spot.

Delhi Daredevils skipper Virender Sehwag, who missed his side's last match -- a nine-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders -- with a finger injury, has already mentioned that Nannes has shaken him in the nets. Now, he is all set to test the Mumbai Indians veteran pair with his pace when the sides clash in East London on Friday.

"He is the fastest bowler I have played against. He is a very difficult left-armer to face," Sehwag, himself an opening batsman for India, said of the little-known fast bowler who is effectively keeping the legendary Glenn McGrath out of the starting line-up.

That might not be the greatest news for Tendulkar and Jayasuriya, who were both dismissed cheaply by another left- arm pacer, Deccan Chargers' RP Singh on Wednesday.

Delhi Daredevils have the best win-ratio in this year's IPL with five victories from seven matches. They lie third in the standings with 10 points in their kitty behind Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, but have two games in hand, and look almost a sure shot for a berth in the semi-finals.

In Friday's clash, though, the Mumbai Indians openers will be looking to get back to the kind of form they showed early in the tournament against the Kolkata Knight Riders with a first-wicket stand of 127 in Port Elizabeth. Nannes though presents himself as an obstacle to that intention, and he has another quality left-arm seamer in Ashish Nehra for back-up.

On the batting front for the Delhi Daredevils, South African AB de Villiers is still the only century-maker in this year's tournament, but Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan has been hogging the headlines recently with some attacking innings. His 42 not out against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday took him into the top six batsmen and he has already hit three half-centuries.

In the Mumbai Indians camp, left-arm quick Zaheer Khan missed his side's last game because of a shoulder injury, although doctors do not rate the problem too serious. His side will not rush him back into action unnecessarily, though, with the ICC World Cup Twenty20 in England next month to be considered.

And, despite losing to the Deccan Chargers at Centurion, Mumbai Indians captain Tendulkar was happy with the bowlers' effort. "Our bowling was fantastic, but our batting in the middle did not go according to plan," said Tendulkar.

The Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians meet for the first time this season and play each other again at Centurion on May 21.

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