Last season’s runners-up the Kings XI Punjab made a disappointing start to this season’s Indian Premier League with a home loss to the Rajasthan Royals. Their much-vaunted batting line-up failed to deliver in the chase but came back to some semblance of form against the Mumbai Indians. The win against Mumbai leaves the Kings XI in the ascendancy here, as the Delhi Daredevils have lost both of their matches so far. Not even a personnel shake-up in the auction has been enough to change Delhi’s fortunes. They’ll be desperate to pick up points as they travel to Pune, lest they earn a very unwanted tag.
To Win Match
Kings XI Punjab 4/10
Delhi Daredevils 19/10
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP are slowly warming up in the 2015 edition of the Indian Premier League. Their chase never really got going against Rajasthan with only Murali Vijay passing thirty, but against Mumbai both Vijay and Sehwag reached the landmark before George Bailey creamed 61 from 32 balls. To add to this, they are still awaiting the inevitable Glenn Maxwell / David Miller masterclass. Possessing dynamic seamers and having experienced the swing on offer in Pune, the Kings XI will be hoping to utilise the conditions and make early inroads. Mitchell Johnson will look to unsettle Delhi’s prize acquisition Yuvraj Singh with the short ball, as he did to devastating effect when Australia travelled India eighteen months ago. Johnson has even reserved praise for KXIP’s new ball pairing of Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh. The two pacemen – Sharma in particular at 21-years-old – could well form part of India’s future seam generation. The Kings XI camp is balanced and one without the need for constant reshuffling. They’ll have their sights firmly set on knockout qualification and will be looking to improvements on their home patch as the key to success.
The Delhi Daredevils have lost a staggering eleven IPL matches in a row. Another loss will result in an unwanted record; no IPL side has ever lost twelve matches on the trot. Despite a massively rejigged lineup on which the Daredevils spent heavily, they have begun the 2015 season in the exact same fashion as the last. They are also set to be severely tested on last year’s runners-up home patch. The Daredevils will find small consolation in a one-run loss to Chennai that could easily have finished in their favour. Albie Morkel blasted 73 from 55 batting at number three, hung around until the final over and needed a six off the final ball. His scythe over extra cover appeared bound for the stands but bounced once before the boundary and resigned Delhi to a painful loss. The next match against Rajasthan was also a nail-biter, this time with Delhi tasked with delivering the last ball to Tim Southee, who required three. An off-target delivery from Angelo Mathews went for four. The Daredevils’ trump card lies in their spin department. They possess a double leg-spin threat in Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir but on a Pune pitch that demands swing and seam, they may be stuck with the wrong combination.
As discussed, the Pune pitch has so far behaved favourably for the seamers and had more than its fair share of grass in the only other match played at ground. The Kings XI pace battery will be licking their collective lips at the prospect. They lost their last fixture at the ground but will be looking to make amends here. The weather is set to stay clear for Wednesday.
VERDICT: Kings XI Punjab 4/10
One feels that things have to turn around for the Daredevils at some point. They have a truly star-studded lineup that will decimate the opposition when it clicks. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem a good match for them to gel. The pitch won’t suit their style and the Kings XI are a tight-knit group who give very little away. Back the favourites here.