Delhi Daredevils, still look to be the strongest side
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:Delhi Daredevils v Lions
Event:Champions League 2012/13

DateLine: 25th October 2012


Delhi Daredevils v Lions
1st Semi Final
Match Preview
Champions League T20 2012


The first semi-final of this season's T20 Champions League takes place at Kingsmead tomorrow and pre-tournament favourites, Delhi Daredevils, still look to be the strongest side in the competition. While other IPL teams have struggled, Delhi have played solid cricket as a unit but the competitive Lions won't make things easy for Mahela Jayawardene's men. Delhi Daredevils' batting might be put through a stern test by Highveld Lions consistent bowling attack.


While the Daredevils finished their league engagements unbeaten and on top of Group A after two wins and a couple of washouts, the Lions ended second in group B with three victories and a loss from their four preliminary matches.


Looking at the teams on paper will tell you that the stronger Daredevils deserve to be favourites. The Lions may be the weaker side but they battle to the end of every match and there is the quality within the ranks to pull off an upset.


Delhi's line up contains stellar names from the world of cricket including Kevin Pietersen, Morne Morkel and Jayawardene himself but the side has received important contributions from home based players such as Unmunkt Chand and Umesh Yadav. The other batsmen in the squad form a power-packed batting line-up which boasts of proven match-winners such as Virender Sehwag, skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor.


But the team looked vulnerable the last time weather permitted it to come out in the middle, against Perth Scorchers. Had it not been for a uncharacteristically patient half century by Sehwag, Delhi did stare at defeat against the Scorchers. David Warner has been warming the benches in this tournament and he will be itching to have a go in case the team management decides to include him in the line-up.


On the bowling front, Delhi's attack looks decent spearheaded by Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel. The young Umesh Yadav has come good and so has veteran all-rounder Ajit Agarkar, who seems to be rediscovering his form.


The Lions, on the other hand, have been relying on their enterprising bowling to carve out wins. The only match in which the left-arm pairing of Sohail Tanvir and Dirk Nannes went for runs was against clinical Sydney Sixers. But they returned to the forefront with a good performance against Yorkshire in their final group match. In the spin department, Phangiso has shown incredible temperament in all his four outings. The 28-year-old spinner will be high on confidence and poses a serious threat to the Delhi batsmen. Prior to the abandoned game with the Titans, Jayawardene had trusted the part time Kevin Pietersen off spinner with a few overs and because he can be an underrated bowler at times, offers healthy support in the middle.


On the batting front, Alviro Petersen, Quinton de Kock and Neil McKenzie are the three main characters in the Lions plans. The Lions relied heavily on Neil McKenzie to score the bulk of their runs in the early stages of this tournament and the veteran batsman will be vital to their success in this game. McKenzie headed the tournament run charts at one point in this competition. Gulam Bodi played a couple of good knocks to start with but came 'a cropper' against Yorkshire and he would look to raise his game in the big game. Above all, it's hoped that the rain that has blighted much of this tournament will stay away and if we get clear weather, this should be a fascinating match.


Delhi Daredevils: AB Agarkar, U Chand, DPMD Jayawardene, M Morkel, P Negi, NV Ojha, IK Pathan, KP Pietersen, AD Russell, AM Salvi, V Sehwag, LRPL Taylor, Y Venugopal Rao, DA Warner, UT Yadav


Lions: T Bavuma, GH Bodi, Z de Bruyn, Q de Kock, ND McKenzie, P Matshikwe, CH Morris, DP Nannes, E O'Reilly, AN Petersen, AM Phangiso, D Pretorius, Sohail Tanvir, J Symes, TL Tsolekile

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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