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Friday, May 22, 2009

Deccan Chargers v Delhi Daredevils, IPL semi-final, Centurion

Delhi start as clear favourites

May 22, 2009

Match facts

May 22, 2009
Start time 16.30 local, (14:30 GMT)

Big Picture

Ashish Nehra successfully appeals for an lbw against Rob Quiney, Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, 18th match, Centurion, April 28, 2009
Ashish Nehra is Delhi's leading wicket-taker, but he hasn't been at his best against Deccan © AFP

Thirty-four days after IPL 2009 kicked off, it's finally time to leave the comforts of the round-robin stages behind. These 34 days were a test of endurance but there was also a reassurance, at most times, that a defeat wasn't the end of the story. There'll be no such second chance on Friday though when Delhi Daredevils take on Deccan Chargers in the first semi-final in Centurion.

The journey to the last four stage has been contrasting for the two teams. Both started similarly, winning their first three matches, but whereas Delhi continued their strong performance throughout the five weeks, winning ten games, Deccan fell away alarmingly with just three wins in their last ten matches.

On current form, Delhi have to start off as favourites: Virender Sehwag's return to form has further boosted an already fantastic batting line-up. AB de Villiers has guided the middle order superbly, and is the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament, while Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Karthik have lent him excellent support. The three left-arm seamers - Ashish Nehra, Dirk Nannes and Pradeep Sangwan - have been on top of their form, while Amit Mishra and Rajat Bhatia have ensured there is hardly any weak link in the bowling. Overall, there are hardly any chinks in the side, and their consistency is largely due to the fact that so many different players have put their hands up at various points of the tournament.

Deccan, on the other hand, go into the game with little momentum, having lost their last two matches. The openers, Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, have often got them off to terrific starts, but an inconsistent middle order has been their bane: whereas de Villiers averages more than 54, and Karthik and Dilshan almost 40, Rohit Sharma, T Suman and Dwayne Smith all average in the 20s, with only Andrew Symonds (38.40) getting the runs consistently. Unlike Delhi, Deccan's bowling has a few weak links too, though the part-timers, led by Rohit, have done a fine job so far. However, in a format in which ten minutes of sheer brilliance can decide the fate of a game, Deccan have enough matchwinners to turn a game.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)

Delhi Daredevils: WLWLW
Sehwag is back among the runs, while Gautam Gambhir helped himself to a few as well against Mumbai. The bowling isn't a worry, and the lack of intensity, which was noticeable in a few round-robin games after they'd qualified, isn't likely to be a factor in a semi-final.

Deccan Chargers: LLWLW
The tendency to lose wickets at key moments remains a problem area, as does the patchy bowling. RP Singh is the leading wicket-taker, but he won't be happy with his most recent effort, when he leaked 47 in four overs against Mumbai.

Watch out for

RP Singh v Ashish Nehra: They are the two leading wicket-takers in the tournament, with Nehra two behind RP Singh's 20, and how the two bowlers handle the pressure of a big game could be key to their team's chances.

Virender Sehwag v Herschelle Gibbs: Both are proven matchwinners but have had some blips in the tournament. A few overs of either out in the middle, and the opposition could be reeling.

AB de Villiers v Andrew Symonds: They are the two main middle-order men for their teams. Deccan's inconsistency, though, probably means they are more dependent on Symonds than Delhi are on de Villiers. Symonds is a big-match player and the pressure of a knockout game might just bring out the best in him.

Team news

Nehra was rested for the game against Mumbai and will definitely return, probably at the expense of Avishkar Salvi, who was pretty impressive as well. David Warner has been among the runs and could continue opening despite Sehwag's return to form. The impressive displays by the bowlers means Glenn McGrath and Daniel Vettori will probably miss out again.

Delhi Daredevils: (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 David Warner, 3 Virender Sehwag (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Rajat Bhatia, 8 Dirk Nannes, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Pradeep Sangwan, 11 Ashish Nehra.

Deccan might go in with the same team that lost to Bangalore. Ryan Harris has taken only two wickets in six games, but he might still be preferred over Chaminda Vaas, who hasn't got a game since disappearing for 52 from his four overs against Delhi. The last bowling slot remains a worry, with Jaskaran Singh, Harmeet Singh and Shoaib Maqsusi all going for plenty.

Deccan: (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt & wk), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 T Suman, 4 Andrew Symonds, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 Azhar Bilakhia, 8 Ryan Harris, 9 RP Singh, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Jaskaran Singh/Harmeet Singh.

Stats and trivia

  • Delhi are marginally ahead of Deccan in both batting and bowling: they average 29.52 per wicket while batting, at 7.72 per over. Deccan average 23.19 at 7.90. With the ball, Delhi average 19.64 per wicket, at 7.46 per over; for Deccan the corresponding numbers are 22.54 and 7.56.

  • In his last three matches, Nehra has bowled 11 overs, conceded 35 runs, and taken three wickets - an average of 11.67, at an economy rate of 3.18. In his two matches against Deccan, though, Nehra has leaked 77 runs in eight overs, for an average of 25.67 at an economy rate of 9.62. This is the most expensive he has been against any team.

  • Sehwag's half-century was the 11th score of 50 or more by a Delhi batsman. Deccan have achieved this only seven times.

  • Chasing a target might be a better option against Delhi: in six games when Delhi have batted first, they've won three and lost as many. Of eight games when they've chased a target, they've won seven, with only one loss, against Chennai by 18 runs.

  • Left-arm fast bowlers have taken 48 out of 87 wickets for Delhi.

Head-to-head record

Delhi have the clear advantage, having beaten Deccan on both occasions in this tournament. In their first clash, they easily chased down 149 with six wickets and eight balls to spare. In their next encounter, Deccan made a hash of their run-chase, falling 12 runs short. The first game between them was at Centurion, the venue of the semi-final.

Since Delhi won both times in 2008 as well, it means Deccan have never beaten their semi-final opponents in four tries.