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Match facts

Saturday, March 13
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

It would be easy to say that a strong Delhi Daredevils are going to walk all over an injury-ridden Kings XI Punjab in a pakka North Indian contest but this is Twenty20 and predictions have often proved to be like the Sunday horoscope in your local newspaper. Many will argue that the past counts for little, but do Kings XI Punjab have something over Delhi with a 3-1 advantage in head-to-head matches? That's what they're likely to think when they walk out in front of their boisterous home crowd tomorrow evening, and it could inspire them to do something special after a worrying build-up.

Punjab have been dogged by absences and injuries. Their two most influential players, Yuvraj Singh and Brett Lee, are doubtful starters. Their tournament history reads like a bad crime novel - not enough twists and turns, too many villains, no shrewd lead characters - and the result is two seasons of inconsistent performances and a bottom four finish in 2009. They were hampered last season by Jerome Taylor pulling out and the absence of some Australian players, but a larger factor was the failure of their Indian players.

Delhi have had no issues getting off the ground; it's when they need to change gears for the final push that they're prone to nosedive. They possess an excellent balance and their top overseas players - bar Daniel Vettori - are available for the entire IPL. They own the best opening pair in international cricket, the dual power of David Warner and Tillakaratne Dilshan to use at No. 3, and AB de Villiers to follow. Their new-ball pair is equally incisive and the Indian contingent of back-up bowlers is more than handy.

Delhi are overwhelming favourites, but don't rule out Punjab - under a gung-ho captain in Kumar Sangakkara - pulling off a few surprises when backed to the hilt by their fans.

Team talk

The focus has been on the availability of Yuvraj and Lee, Punjab's two most valuable players. As of now, neither is likely to play tomorrow. The man to replace Yuvraj will probably be his former India team-mate and good friend Mohammad Kaif, and he will immediately be expected to provide stability to the middle order. With Australian opener Shaun Marsh also ruled out with injury and James Hopes and Adrian Barath not yet in India, Punjab are likely to open with Karan Goel and Sangakkara. Goel has been an underachiever so far, scraping together just 200 runs in 16 matches and, like the team's other domestic players, he needs to deliver. In Lee's absence, the onus is on Yusuf Abdullah and Sreesanth to strike, while Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar have the unenviable task of trying to curb Delhi's attacking instincts.

Delhi have no such worries, but the challenge will be which overseas players to include in the XI. Dilshan, de Villiers and Dirk Nannes, given his success for Delhi previously, are certain starters but the tough choice will be between the explosive Warner or Wayne Parnell. Both are value additions, so it remains to be seen which angle the management takes. Delhi also have a strong Indian party, with Amit Mishra, Pradeep Sangwan, Aavishkar Salvi and Rajat Bhatia all viable options.


Punjab beat Delhi in both matches during the 2008 season: by four wickets at home and by six runs away. They then suffered a heavy ten-wicket loss in their first encounter in 2009 but restored the advantage by beating Delhi by six wickets.

In the spotlight

Virender Sehwag v Punjab's spinners: The man who once pronounced he had little respect for bowlers of the slow variation should relish the prospect of facing two different types of spinners. Sehwag had a poor outing in the last IPL, often failing to see off the new-ball bowlers, but back at home and in good form he'll be a major threat. Chawla has earned a lot of respect and backing from within the Punjab camp, and Powar is a crafty offspinner whose strength lies in slowing down the pace. When on top of their game the pair can be a handful, but if it's Sehwag's day …

Wayne Parnell: Delhi's think-tank had been tracking Parnell's progress since his impressive performances against Australia during the home series in 2009 and knocked on his door when the event was held in South Africa. Essentially, Parnell fills the slot left vacant after Delhi bought out Glenn McGrath's contract. They have a rich bag of overseas players to pick from so it's not certain that Parnell will play, but he's got an impressive CV to put forth. And if Delhi have dished out that much cash for the young South African, you can be sure they're keen to see what he's worth.

Prime numbers

* Ashish Nehra was the third highest wicket-taker in IPL 2009 with 19 at 18.21 and an economy rate of 6.78 from 13 games. In contrast, Sreesanth managed just six wickets from seven opportunities at 32.00 and an economy rate of 8.34.

* Delhi were one of the best teams during the last six overs in IPL 2009 - they scored at more than nine runs per over and restricted their opponents to around eight, thanks to bowlers like Nehra.

* That said, Delhi also bowled the most wides (68) and no-balls (19), the highest for a team last season.

* In South Africa, Punjab suffered 22 run outs, the highest for a team. Delhi suffered this fate only six times, but inflicted 22 run-outs on the opposition, the most by a fielding team.

The chatter

"When you are leading a team, then you have pressure on your mind as you have to simultaneously think in various directions and you have to decide on your strategies in various departments. But now I would be able to fully concentrate only on my batting."
A doubtful starter, Yuvraj Singh appears relieved not to be captain.

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