The Telegraph
Monday , April 21 , 2014
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CSK, DD bank on the batsmen

Abu Dhabi: The Chennai Super Kings lost their first match of IPL VII, but there’s no reason to doubt their abilities. The Delhi DareDevils are missing their most important player, Kevin Pietersen, but have proved that the rest of the players are capable of winning matches.

It’s still very early in the ongoing edition of the IPL and forming opinions about teams, their strengths and weaknesses, wouldn’t be fair. After fresh the auction earlier this year, most of the teams are sporting a changed look and hence may require some time to get their rhythm with a new bunch of players.

So when the Super Kings and the DareDevils clash on Monday, it will be a fight between two teams who are still trying to sort out their strategies. It is more so for the DareDevils, though they have played a match more than the Super Kings, because they are playing with a completely new set of players.

That is where the Super Kings enjoy a slight advantage as their core has more or less remained the same after the franchise had decided to retain the key players, including captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The Super Kings didn’t play badly to lose to the Kings XI Punjab by six wickets in their IPL VII opener. They posted a more-than-impressive 205 on the board batting first. But some stupendous batting from Kings XI’s Glenn Maxwell and David Miller saw them end on the losing side.

Much of the stress, therefore, must be on the Super Kings’ bowling attack. While pacers Ashish Nehera and Mohit Sharma will try to keep it tight, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will de banked upon to get wickets. Ashwin had got two wickets against the Kings XI, but was very expensive. Ravindra Jadeja failed to make a mark with his left-arm spin in the last match and he too would like to get his act right.

However, it will be interesting to see if Dhoni goes with the same bowling attack or whether he goes for a change, because he has some options at his disposal. The likes of Ishwar Pandey and Samuel Badree may just get a look in.

The Super Kings’ batting, however, seemed to be in good touch with openers Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum smashing fine half-centuries. Captain Dhoni and Suresh Raina too got nice cameos to boost the team’s total.

The DareDevils, on the other hand, got their act together against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, after the humiliating loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening match.

Their DareDevils’ batting, which produced a shoddy display in the absence of an injured Pietersen in the opening match, came across much better in the second game. Pietersen remains a doubtful starter for Monday’s game too.

Highlights of the effort were half-centuries by captain Dinesh Karthik and South African import JP Duminy while chasing a fairly competitive 167 for victory.

Karthik and Duminy deserves special mention for helping the team turn around after the flop show in the first match. (Agencies)