After being hammered in their opening match of IPL 7 by Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils will sweat over skipper Kevin Pietersen's return from injury to get a psychological boost ahead of their second game in Abu Dhabi on Saturday against Kolkata Knight Riders, who are on a high having beaten defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener.
Dinesh Karthik led Delhi against RCB in the absence of Pietersen, and while he may continue in that capacity in case Pietersen fails to recover from his finger injury, Delhi will rely heavily on their batting stars from the first game, JP Duminy and Ross Taylor.
Both Duminy and Taylor batted appreciably against Bangalore and got the team out of the woods to post a decent total. After a miserable outing int he first game, Mayank Agarwal, Karthik, who scored a duck, and Manoj Tiwary will need to pull their socks if Delhi were to get back to winning ways. Opener Murali Vijay, who also got out on Thursday, will be hoping to provide Delhi a decent start this time around.
Bowling was also a cause of worry for Delhi in the opening game, especially the spinners, with both Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Sharma hammered by Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli. They will have to bowl with a lot more variation besides hitting the right line and length.
On the other hand, KKR will be high on confidence after the big win against Mumbai. Allrounder Jacques Kallis once again showed that age can't wear him down, thanks to a match-winning knock, which set the game up for Kolkata. Having started the tournament with an equally brilliant half century, Manish Pandey will also look to continue in similar style. On the lookout for runs will also be skipper Gautam Gambhir, who was dismissed without scoring against MI. Yusuf Pathan, who is back in India for the birth of his baby, could miss the game, though.
As far as the bowling department is concerned, mystery spinner Sunil Narine continues to bamboozle batsmen with his guile. He left the Mumbai batsmen clueless, finishing with excellent figures of 4 for 20, and one can always expect a similar outing from the West Indian.
KKR will take confidence from the fact that besides Narine, the others in R Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Shakib Al Hasan and Piyush Chawla also bowled economically and are in form.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa (wk), Yusuf Pathan/Manvinder Bisla, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Vinay Kumar, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel
Delhi Daredevils: Mayank Agarwal, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Manoj Tiwary, JP Duminy, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Wayne Parnell, Rahul Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohammed Shami
(With PTI inputs)