“Good pitch, mate, good carry. Nice work.” Brett Lee of the Kolkata Knight Riders was all praise for the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch while having a bat at an adjacent strip a day ahead of the clash against Delhi Daredevils. He was promptly reminded by groundstaff that the track had slowed down a bit. “You should have been here the day the first match was played,” someone quipped, and Lee winked. “That’s all right, this’ll do.”
It’s almost uncanny, this deluge of praise pouring in for a grassy side strip at a venue notorious for producing low, slow pitches that don’t facilitate strokeplay. That said, three matches within a span of six days might be too much of a burden for even the side strip to bear.
It was apparent the track had slowed down a bit on Tuesday night in the game against Royal Challengers, and even though DD skipper Sehwag said after that game “the ball is not coming on to the bat as well as it did earlier (against KXIP)”, Virat Kohli of the RCB felt it was the best Kotla track he had ever played on. The DD team management has decided to stick to the same strip for the match against KKR, though, and the grass has been brushed a bit and the watering kept to a minimum. This is the closest thing DD have to a Kotla belter and they’re reluctant to let go.
That sets the stage up nicely for a match-up between teams led by India’s Test openers, another clash between Delhi boys who finds themselves on the opposite side of the IPL fence. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are extremely familiar with each others’ thought processes, and KKR coach Dav Whatmore implied that could only lead to “some good cricket on a good pitch”.
Funnily enough, the Daredevils seem to be running into one disgruntled Delhi cricketer after another. If it was Kohli on Tuesday, it might well be Gambhir – who is still smarting after being ignored by the owners at the auctions – on Thursday night. “They (Sehwag and Gambhir) know each others’ game very well, they will share the secrets with their respective teams. There is a good contest on the cards.”
Both teams are hoping to get their campaigns back on track. DD’s lack of foresight at the auctions, their problems with team combination and their reliance on the top order has been discussed ad infinitum. They are second from bottom after yet another defeat but KKR only have two points more after having lost their last two games. Whatmore, though, was right on the money when he suggested that in the IPL, it was all about what transpired on the day.