Rejuvenated Delhi faces uphill task against Bangalore

Zaheer Khan's men provided a spectacular turnaround that now casts Sunday's meeting with Royal Challengers Bangalore here in a different light.

Virat Kohli appears to have carried over his international form into the IPL.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Delhi Daredevils last won a game at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2010, back when it had a top three of David Warner, Virender Sehwag and A.B. de Villiers. The team has since been one of the IPL's laggards, finishing last three times and second-from-bottom once. So when Delhi was bundled out for 98 in Kolkata last week, en route to a nine-wicket thrashing, it did not promise a season of bountiful joy.

However, when they returned to the Kotla, Zaheer Khan's men provided a spectacular turnaround that now casts Sunday's meeting with Royal Challengers Bangalore here in a different light. A rejuvenated Delhi hammered Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets on Friday, Zaheer setting things in motion with an opening spell of 3-1-8-0 before Amit Mishra tore the opposition apart with his four for 11.

RCB, which brushed Sunrisers Hyderabad aside in its opening fixture, will be cautious but still confident. “Amit Mishra is a good bowler, but we have to play the ball and not the bowler,” said Kedar Jadhav here on Saturday. “It's not as if we've not played him before. He's been playing in the IPL for the last seven-eight years. We know what his variations are.”

The inclusion of J.P. Duminy and Jayant Yadav for the second game gave Delhi the look of a balanced side, but even so there is no comparison with RCB's big guns.

Virat Kohli appears to have carried over his international form into the IPL, while de Villiers struck the ball tremendously well against Hyderabad. Shane Watson's big sixes and Sarfaraz Khan's dainty scoop shots demonstrated the depth in the batting.

The bowlers largely suffered, but as Jadhav noted: “The wicket is a batting paradise and the boundaries small. So we can't blame the bowlers.”

Jadhav, who played for Delhi till previous season, sees the contrast between the sides as well as anyone. “In Delhi, I used to be under pressure,” he said. “We used to lose early wickets owing to inexperience. But here we have the best batting line-up. I enjoy watching these guys bat.”

After Sunday, RCB has four away games scheduled in the space of 11 days. Kohli and his men will want to hit the road with two wins on the board.

“We want to qualify convincingly and not wait for the last two matches,” Jadhav said.

Delhi's mentor, Rahul Dravid, who spent some time in conversation with Watson as RCB trained here on Saturday, will have similar ambitions.