Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deccan favourites in battle of former losers

All Humpty: Deccan will want to continue with such celebrations.

Match facts
April 22, 2009
Start time 16.30pm (14.30GMT)

Big Picture
The bottom-placed teams from last season had undergone massive changes this year but one of them, Bangalore Royal Challengers, already threaten to revert to type, via a dispirited show against Chennai Super Kings on Monday. They will now want to push Deccan Chargers back to type and maintain equilibrium in the table.

Deccan, though, had a more authoritative win than Bangalore to start their campaign. They outplayed their opposition, albeit the weaker Kolkata Knight Riders, right from the time Fidel Edwards bowled the first ball. Looks can be deceptive, but Deccan looked the part, Bangalore didn't.

Bangalore may have won one comprehensively, and lost one in the same manner, but their batsmen were consistent in their failures. It is not a good reflection on the side if they have to rely on Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid for the runs. They should be the springboard for the bigger hitters, the Ryders and Pietersens. Which is the real Bangalore? Wednesday could be a good time to find out.

Also of interest will be to see whether Newlands improves for the batsmen. We shouldn't be complaining about a more even contest between the bat and the ball, though.

Player form guide
Deccan: They will be absolutely pleased with the opening combination of Fidel Edwards and RP Singh, who set up the big win for them - Edwards through tight, fast bowling, RP through movement, bounce, and wicket-taking deliveries. Will be too early to read into the batsmen's form - they were chasing only 102, but Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, on current form, are a tempting proposition at the top.

Bangalore: The batsmen need to score. And fast. The New Zealand imports, their two big draws, haven't really clicked. Jesse Ryder was mysteriously dropped for their second game. Ross Taylor now has one run from five balls and two innings. Dravid and Kallis have looked their best batsmen. It's their bowling that has kept them in so far, but Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn would want a better show than in their game against Chennai, the two of them giving away 72 runs in eight overs.

Watch out for
Gilchrist v Praveen: Murderous intent v wily swing bowling. Vast experience v young wise head. As it stands, it's 2-0 to Praveen. Surprising as it may sound, Praveen took Gilchrist out, early, in both the finals of the CB Series last year.

Friendly fire
Gibbs v Steyn: Who will the crowds go mad for? So far every time the ball has gone to Gibbs, and every time Steyn has beaten the batsman, there has been generous appreciation from home crowds. This one should be a monumental contest. Can Gibbs pull a fast Steyn delivery, of un-pullable length?

Team news
Ryder, if there is no injury concern, should take his place ahead of compatriot Taylor. Ryder looks in better touch, is a more complete batsman, and provides a lot with his smart medium-pace bowling. One Indian slot has been a complete waste for them, too. B Akhil looked out of his depth against quality spin bowling, and he didn't get a bowl. His replacement in the second game, Rajesh Bishnoi, didn't get to bowl either, and came in to bat after the game had been lost. They just can't keep wasting a player.

Bangalore Royal Challengers (probable) 1 Jesse Ryder, 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Kevin Pietersen (capt.), 5 Rahul Dravid, 6 Virat Kohli, 7 B Akhil/Rajesh Bishnoi/somebody new, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 R Vinay Kumar, 10 Anil Kumble, 11 Dale Steyn.

Deccan might not need any changes. The bowlers were perfect, the batsmen untested.

Deccan Chargers (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt. & wk), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 VVS Laxman, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 Ravi Teja, 8 Harmeet Singh, 9 Pragyan Ojha, 10 RP Singh, 11 Fidel Edwards.

Head-to-head record
Bangalore won both their matches last year: the first one a thriller by three runs, and the next seemingly comfortably by five wickets.