New Delhi: Perennial under-achievers Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab will look to recover from opening losses and put their campaign back on track when they clash in an IPL match here on Friday.
Laggards last season, Delhi and Punjab had hoped for a positive start but both the teams suffered contrasting defeats at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions respectively.
Delhi had finished 7th in the 2015 edition and they would be looking to get their combination right to get into the winning mode. The Daredevils, who had qualified for Champions League T20 twice, have a new unit with current India U-19 coach and batting great Rahul Dravid as their mentor and Paddy Upton as their coach.
They also have a new skipper in Zaheer Khan and the onus will be on him to inspire his team to put the disappointments behind. Against Kolkata, Delhi cut a sorry figure when they were dismissed for 98 in 17.4 overs with only four of their batsmen reaching double figures and Zaheer has to ensure that they come up with a better performance tomorrow.
A lot was expected from Carlos Brathwaite, who became the toast of the cricketing world after hitting England's Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to win the ICC World T20 final for the West Indies.
But the strapping youngster could not make much impact against Kolkata and Delhi will expect him to repeat his World T20 exploits. Similarly, all-rounder Pawan Negi, who was bought for 8.5 Crores, becoming the most expensive Indian player in the IPL Auction of 2016, also needs to step up and deliver. Delhi's batting unit looks weak with only Quinton de Kock (17) and Sanju Samson (15) making the double figures among the top five batsmen. Comparatively, their bowling unit looks more solid with the presence of Nathan Counter-Nile, Chris Morris and Amit Mishra, besides Zaheer himself.
At 37, Zaheer has been handed the responsibility of guiding a young side and he would like to lead by example. Despite Delhi's loss, the Mumbaikar defended his young team and sounded optimistic about the times to come.
"It was just one bad day. It's just the beginning of the season, and I hope things will come along. Good things are in store," Zaheer had said. "I'm just happy with the way the boys have carried themselves on the field. The way the bowlers showed intent of taking wickets. I'm very very happy with the energy and intensity showed by the boys on the field. This is how we're going to approach the season."
On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab, who have been the runner-up and semi-finalists in the past IPLs, were equally lacklustre as they finished at the bottom of the table last year.
The side did not add any significant player this season, and their star player Virender Sehwag has also retired. They have a new captain in South Africa's David Miller in place of Australian George Bailey, who is no more with the team.
Punjab had put up a decent score of 161-6 against Gujarat in their opening match with useful contributions from their opening batsmen -- Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra. They also boast of an explosive allrounder in Glenn Maxwell, besides Miller in the middle-order.
However, the team failed to defend the total after their bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik.
Sandeep Sharma, Mitchell Johnson and Mohit Sharma constitute their pace battery, while Australia's Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel and Pardeep Sahu make the spin department and they will have to come good for Punjab to have any chance tomorrow.
The Teams (From):
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (c), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Pawan Suyal, Jayant Yadav, Chris Morris, Sam Billings, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Imran Tahir, Mahipal Lomor, Chama Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Khaleel Ahmed, Akhil Herwadkar, Pratyush Singh.
Kings XI Punjab: David Miller (Capt.), Kyle Abbott, Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Anureet Singh, Axar Patel, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Pardeep Sahu, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, Swapnil Singh, Armaan Jaffer, Farhaan Behardien, KC Cariappa, Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Nikhil Naik, Shardul Thakur.
Match starts: 8pm IST.