New Delhi:Having beaten the same opponents in their own backyard less than a week ago, Delhi Daredevils start as favourites when they take on Chennai Super Kings in their return leg of the Indian Premier League tie on Thursday.
Daredevils had scored an easy eight-wicket victory over the Chennai side on May 2 at the Chepauk with captain Virender Sehwag leading from the front with a blistering 41-ball 71 and his opening partner Gautam Gambhir chipping in with a half century (50).
A win on Thursday for the GMR-owned team would also leave behind their last match loss to Mumbai Indians (on May 4) besides keeping a clean slate at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
Despite the loss in Mumbai, Daredevils looked a better side with their top order in cracking form and having more variety in bowling.
Sehwag and Gambhir have been in fine nick so far and are second and third in the leading rungetter's list of the IPL having had the chance to wear the orange cap once each. Young Shikhar Dhawan, at number three most of the time, has been doing a fine job also.
The Delhi team's only chink in its armour has been their middle order wobble and in the last match against Bangalore Royals, Sehwag's middle order had failed though they won the match.
The Super Kings, on the other hand, must be low in morale having lost their last three matches after starting the tournament strongly winning their first four matches.
For Dhoni, it has been a frustrating week after they lost to Sehwag's side at home with nothing clicking for them and having beaten comprehensively on all three occasions.
Dhoni's side has been hit hard by the departure of top order batsmen, Australians Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey, and in the last three matches they have been beaten comprehensively mainly due to top order not firing.
Openers Parthiv Patel Patel and S Badrinath have been in miserable form so far while Kiwi Stephen Fleming has not found his grooves in the two matches he has played so far. Dhoni himself and Suresh Raina have not played a match-winning innings.
Delhi Daredevils have also been blessed with much more variety in bowling and it has not felt much the departure of Kiwi spinner Daniel Vettori with Sehwag himself and Pakistani captain Shoaib Malik doing a decent job in the slow bowling department.
In the pace department, old warhorse Glenn McGrath has been leading the attack admirably well and has proved that age has nothing to do in this slam-bang cricket.
He has got six wickets from six matches and has been the most economical bowler of IPL at 6.16 per over. He would be looking to continue his good form of the last match here against Bangalore Royal Challengers when he returned four for 29, especially when the Chennai top order is struggling.
McGrath has been supported well by Rajat Bhatia (six wickets from six matches) and Yo Mahesh and Mohd. Asif both of whom have captured six wickets from five matches.
Only Manpreet Gony has done a standout job for Super Kings and the Punjab lad has been a surprise with nine wickets from seven matches and a decent economy rate. Nothing much has been happening for spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan who have five wickets from six matches though he has been miserly.
Palani Amarnath has been costly at more than 10 runs per over though he had taken six wickets from four matches, while Joginder Sharma has also been almost as costly though he had taken seven wickets from as many matches.
South Africans Makhaya Ntini and Albie Morkel has yet to come up with some inspiring performance with Ntini been wicketless from his three matches while Morkel got one from four matches and both neither being economical, and this has added to Dhoni's headache.
Dhoni knows he has limited bowling resources and his batsmen will have to fire at the top.
"We have not got the starts in the last three matches. That has put pressure on the middle order. We are losing too many wickets early on. We want to correct this," Dhoni had said.
But that is not happening so far after the departure of the Australians and with the likes of McGrath, Mohd. Asif and Yo Mahesh in fine form Dhoni and his boys will have a tough task at hand on Thursday.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (captain), Rajat Bhatia, AB de Villiers, Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Gautam Gambhir, Brett Geeves, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof, Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Asif, Yogesh Nagar, Pradeep Sangwan, Shoaib Malik, Mayank Tehlan, Manoj Tiwary, Tejashwi Yadav.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Viraj Vilas Kadbe, Palani Amarnath, Srikkanth Anirudha, R Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Napoleon Einstein, Stephen Fleming, Manpreet Gony, Shadab Jakati, Joginder Sharma, Arun Karthik, Suresh Kumar, Albie Morkel, Abhinav Mukund, Muttiah Muralitharan, Makhaya Ntini, Parthiv Patel (wk), Suresh Raina, Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Sudeep Tyagi.