If there is one thing in common between the Delhi Daredevils and Kochi Tuskers Kerala it has to be the lack of local flavour in both sides. Virender Sehwag and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth are the only two names with which their respective city fans identify themselves.
The direct effect of this fact is visible in the IPL 4 games in Delhi and Kochi. Crowds have always been the 12th man of IPL franchises at home – ask Rajasthan Royals, who have made the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur their fortress.
That’s sadly not the case in Ferozeshah Kotla anymore, as was visible on Thursday night. The fans vociferously supported Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata Knight Riders.
Kochi is feeling the financial pinch of the phenomenon with people giving the IPL the cold-shoulder back home. Losing games at home consistently isn’t helping the two sides either.
Delhi have won just one out of the five games at the Kotla while Kochi lost the last couple of games – the latest being a 38-run defeat at the hands of Daredevils on Sunday.
Both sides are locked on six points from eight games going into Monday’s match at the Kotla and with the IPL 4 so closely packed, a win for either side will vault them back into contention.
Daredevils have failed to string together a series of wins in this tournament so far, their victories almost invariably supplemented by a couple of losses.
The 22-yard strip has been the focus of attention at the Kotla this year. After the run-riot on the ‘green’ track against Kings XI Punjab, the Daredevils’ runs have rapidly dried up.
The 40 degree Delhi heat and three matches in a week have taken a toll on the surface which has gone markedly slower.
The Delhi & Districts Cricket Association has now decided to employ the other green tracks at the other end of the centre wickets.
“This new track will be exactly like the other side wickets. It has similar amount of grass and will have pace and movement for the seam bowlers,” DDCA grounds and pitches committee chairman Venkat Sundaram told TOI on Sunday.
Refusing to take the blame for the track getting slow, Sundaram said, “We didn’t shave any grass from the track. There was normal wear-and-tear on the wicket due to the Delhi heat.”
The Daredevils are expected to return to their all-seam attack at Kotla after employing left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe on the extremely low-and-slow Kochi track.
The Tuskers’ weakness against quality seam bowling – exposed so brutally by Ishant Sharma and Dale Steyn – will be on Morne Morkel & Co.’s mind as well.
But before the bowlers take stage, skipper Sehwag and opener David Warner will once again be expected to post the bulk of the runs. Nothing less than a win will suffice for the two sides, both looking to stay away from the bottom of the points table.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (c), Morne Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda, Travis Birt, Colin Ingram, Robert Frylinck, Roelof van der Merwe, Matthew Wade, Andrew McDonald, Ajit Agarkar, Y Venugopal Rao, Umesh Yadav, Aaron Finch, Naman Ojha, Vikas Mishra, James Hopes, David Warner, Unmukt Chand, Robin Bist, Varun Raymond Aaron, Aavishkar Salvi, Rajesh Pawar, Sridharan Sriram, Yogesh Nagar, Vivek Yadav, Ajit Chandila.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel, Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Thisara Perera, Raiphi Gomez, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ramesh Powar, VVS Laxman, Sreesanth, Muttiah Muralitharan, Owais Shah, Steven Smith, Balachandra Akhil, Deepak Chougule, Gnaneswara Rao, John Hastings, Michael Klinger, Chandan Madan, Sushant Marathe, Steve O’Keefe, Tanmay Srivastava, Padmanabhan Prasanth and Yashpal Singh.