Buoyed by the comprehensive six-wicket win over defending champion Sunrisers Hyderbad, which provided a lifeline to their faltering campaign, Delhi Daredevils are hoping for an encore to further boost their chances as they take on sluggish Gujarat Lions in a crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Thursday.
After five successive defeats, Delhi tasted a win to keep their campaign on rail with six points from nine outings, while Suresh Raina led Gujarat Lions are battling it out for survival, having lost seven of the ten matches they have played.
Both the teams need a win to keep afloat in the league, hoping against hope for some miracle, but a defeat will certainly knock out the losing side from the race.
Delhi are likely to be without their regular captain Zaheer Khan, who is yet not fully recovered and Karun Nair is expected to lead his side for the third match in a row. Under Nair, Delhi suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Punjab in Mohali but roared back with a big win against Hyderabad.
In their match against Sunrisers, though their bowlers got good hammering but Delhi Batsmen took sweet revenge as they also pummeled visitors bowling to overhaul a daunting target of 186 with ease. Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer and Risabh Pant contributed in their team's victory in which Corey Anderson and Chris Morris provided the finishing touches.
This fact was even acknowledged by seasoned Yuvraj Singh, who attributed his team Sunrisers defeat to aggressive Delhi batting. "I think we gave a lot of runs in the first six overs. The dropped catch (of Karun Nair) was crucial. If we could have taken early wickets, would have been key. It wasn't a great start by our bowlers and we did not pick wickets in the middle. All of their guys got 30-40 runs," he said.
In the bowling department, pacer Mohammed Shami came up with a good spell and was well supported by veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Off-spinner Jayant Yadav and Morris also held their own against the Sunrisers batting onslaught but South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was wayward as he conceded 59 runs in four overs.
According to Amit Mishra, Delhi is still in reckoning for the play-offs. "We are very positive from now, we will go step by step. We have a very good team and we clicked today. We did well in batting and bowling but are still struggling with our fielding. It was not up to the mark," Mishra said.
"Our bowling is good, if we bat well we have a chance to get good result against Gujarat," he added.
On the other hand, Gujarat will be looking for change in their luck which deserted them twice at crucial moments against Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants. The match against Mumbai went into super over while Pune snatched a victory from Lions’ jaw with the help of Ben Stokes’ quickfire century.
On paper, Gujarat batting line-up looks impressive as it includes some of the world’s best T20 players in Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayner Smith and Suresh Raina. Youngster Ishan Kishan has been impressive with his power-hitting at the top.
Wicket keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and James Faulkner are there to strengthen middle-order, but like RCB, Gujarat batsmen have failed to live up to their reputations.
Gujarat bowling, which has left a lot to be desired so far, has got further depleted after the injury of Andrew Tye.
Their all-Indian pace attack comprising Basil Thampi, Pradeep Sangwan, Ankit Soni, Nathu Singh, Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar have performed well with their potential.