Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab finished at the bottom of the IPL standings last season and suffered disappointing losses in their first games, against Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions, respectively in 2016. Now, the Daredevils and Kings XI will be eying their first victory, when the two teams face off at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Friday.
Both the teams are aware of the importance of today's game, which is expected to be a cracker. With all of the other six teams being equally competitive, it is essential for franchises to get off to a decent start.
There is no shortage of individual talent in both the sides, but the team management needs to come up with the best playing XI, which can sometimes be a tricky affair. And it seems Delhi missed a trick in not playing Imran Tahir in their first game at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Tahir should feature in the starting lineup for the Delhi Daredevils, as they are playing their first home match at Kotla, where the conditions will suit the slower bowlers.
Tahir, who is one of the best legspinners, could turn out to be their trump card in Delhi. The South Africa spinner may replace his fellow countryman, Chris Morris, or Australia's Nathan Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Though they might not make any changes as far as their batsmen are concerned, it would be better off if Sanju Samson, who can play as per the situation demands, bats higher up the order. With JP Duminy uncertain for the game, their middle order looks fragile, so their opener, Quinton de Kock, will need to play an important role with the bat.
Kings XI are also not expected to make any changes in their batting unit, which looks strong as it includes Murali Vijay, David Miller and Glenn Maxwell. But, they need to make some changes to the team that played in Mohali, with the playing XI consisting of seamers like Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma and Mitchell Johnson.
The seamers might not be of much use in Kotla's slow track, so they might be tempted to play bowlers, who can grip the surface with their cutters, and make the batsmen think. Kings XI might play Rishi Dhawan instead of Sandeep Sharma. Though, Mohit might have been poor last time around, he could prove to be a handful on this pitch in Delhi. However spinners like Axar Patel and Pardeep Sahu will be key for the Kings.
Though the batsmen usually play an integral role in most of the T20 matches, the result in Kotla could be decided by the slower bowlers' performance.
Likely playing XI: Kings XI Punjab: Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Mitchell Johnson, Mohit Sharma, Rishi Dhawan, Pardeep Sahu
Delhi Daredevils: Quinton de Kock, Mayank Agarwal, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, Carlos Brathwaite, Pawan Negi, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Imran Tahir.