Two teams with matching firepower will come face to face when table-toppers Delhi Daredevils take on second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in what promises to be a high-voltage first qualifier in the controversy-ridden IPL 5, in Pune on Tuesday.
In a season marred by unsavoury incidents off the field, the IPL‘s cricketing climax promises to be quite a treat with heavyweights making the last four.
And there’s nothing better than Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders kicking off the business end of the event. The two teams have, without doubt, been the most consistent performers in the Twenty20 league this season.
Both the teams boast of explosive batting line-ups. Their bowling attacks too have done exceptionally well in a format considered punishing for bowlers.
When the two teams came face to face in the league stage, honours were shared, with Delhi winning in Kolkata and KKR returning the favour when they visited the capital.
On paper, the sides match up pretty well and it promises to be a battle of equals.
If Delhi has the brutality of captain Virender Sehwag and David Warner, Kolkata have the answer in Brendon McCullum.
If Mahela Jayawardene lends stability to Delhi’s batting order, Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir is equally inspirational for his team.
In fact, both the teams have equally potent all-rounders in the line-up, with Irfan Pathan rediscovering his old form for Delhi and Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan doing the job for Kolkata.
On the bowling front, Delhi have a pace ace in South African Morne Morkel, who has not just been miserly in conceding runs but also the wrecker-in-chief when it comes to picking wickets.
Ably supported by Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, Delhi’s pace attack has looked lethal with Morkel at the helm.
Kolkata also have an intimidating pace battery, with Australian Brett Lee likely to make a comeback after sitting out in the last three games.
But, with the likes of mystery spinner Sunil Narine, Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib in the ranks, Kolkata definitely have the upper hand over Delhi in the spin department.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (C), Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Puneet Bisht, Robin Bist, Naman Ojha (wk),Shahbaz Nadeem, Venugopal Rao, Vikas Mishra, Yogesh Nagar, Zafir Patel, Sunny Gupta, Tejashwi Yadav, Aavishkar Salvi, Kuldeep Raval, Manpreet Juneja, Pawan Negi, Prashant Naik, Aaron Finch, Andre Russell, Doug Bracewell, Glenn Maxwell, Gulam Bodi, Morne Morkel, Roelf van der Merwe.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Brendon McCullum (wk), Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Debabrata Das, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Sunil Narine,Brett Lee, Iqbal Abdulla, Chirag Jani, Iresh Saxena, JaidevUnadkat, Manvinder Bisla, Pradeep Sangwan, Sanju Samson, Sarabjit Singh Ladda, Mohammad Shami Ahmed, Eoin Morgan, Marchant de Lange, Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hasan.