Cautious Pune gears up for Delhi’s daredevilry

Coached by Rahul Dravid, Delhi has such variety and depth in talent that RPS doesn’t know what to expect from DD in a contest on home turf at MCA stadium. T20 is all about keeping the rival guessing and Dravid pulls it off by identifying special skills in players and backing them all the way.

Rising Pune Supergiant will rely on Imran Tahir and Ben Stokes when it faces Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Rising Pune Supergiant would be worried about the surprise element from the Delhi Daredevils camp, when it faces off in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Tuesday.

The Delhi outfit underperformed against Royal Challengers Bangalore to start off its campaign with a defeat. Failing to chase down 157 in Twenty20 format is a rare occurrence, and Delhi succumbed in a low-scoring game, giving opponent spinners the upper-hand.

Coached by Rahul Dravid, Delhi has such variety and depth in talent that RPS doesn’t know what to expect from DD in a contest on home turf at MCA stadium. T20 is all about keeping the rival guessing and Dravid pulls it off by identifying special skills in players and backing them all the way.

England’s Sam Billings considers himself fortunate to learn from him. “One of the great things about IPL is for me to work with one of the best to have played the game. Rahul Dravid tells us what we are supposed to do, at the same time, he gives us freedom to play our way,” said the opener, whose reverse-sweep six against RCB was remarkable for timing and audacity.

Rishabh Pant is another talent making heads turn in the DD line-up. “Rishabh would have won the game for us, he only needed someone to hang in at the other end,” said Billings. Sanju Samson, Karun Nair grew into match-winning batsmen under Dravid’s guidance. Aditya Tare caught his eye this time, like Ajinkya Rahane earlier with Rajasthan Royals.

Rahane is in the RPS dugout this time, but is familiar with the self-belief in DD dressing room. Billings points out: “We have a good pace attack and classy spinners in Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra. Shahbaz Nadeem bowled brilliantly and it was disappointing not to have gone over the line (against RCB). No team can be taken lightly, including us.”

Steve Smith, RPS captain and Dravid’s former team-mate at Royals, heads a power-packed batting line-up, featuring Rahane, M S Dhoni, Ben Stokes, Dan Christian to name a handful. A thriller is in store, in case the host is chasing a target. Zaheer Khan’s controlled and slower balls, Pat Cummings lethal pace, leg-spinner Mishra’s loop and turn can humble and hustle the best.