Delhi Daredevils would have preferred a better show in the UAE leg of IPL-7. Back in India after playing five matches, winning only two, the Kevin Pietersen-led side will be hoping for better results, now that they have the advantage of playing five matches at home, the Ferozeshah Kotla.
It was for Delhi Daredevils that the Orange Cap owner, Kings XI Punjab's Glenn Maxwell had the first taste of Twenty20 in 2012. Pace guru and director of GMR Sports, owners of DD, TA Sekar, had predicted Maxwell to come good two years ago.
"I had said way back then that Maxwell will be a star," Sekar told dna on Monday. "I had seen some of his knocks (in Australian domestic cricket) and I knew that he will perform well. Now, he is in terrific form.
In T20, once you start scoring, you will be in momentum, which is something really good. He is a terrific player. If he could bowl a bit, he will become one of the few good all-rounders in the world. At that time, we could not give him enough chances (he played in only two matches, scoring three in each innings), as he was coming up and had not played much in India. After that, he spent one year with Mumbai Indians.
Now, it is bearing the fruit."
Daredevils could have fared better had the Englishman Pietersen not injured his finger. "Naturally we missed KP for the first three matches. But a big blow for us was when we lost (medium-pacer) Nathan Coulter-Nile as he is one of the best T20 bowlers around. But, we had picked up the team in such a way that we have back-ups. Murali Vijay and Quinton de Kock are playing really well. Batting is our strength," the 58-year-old former India pacer Sekar said.
South African left-hander JP Duminy has been DD's highest run-getter with two fifties in five innings. Add to it his abilities to squeeze in some useful overs. Sekar said: "Duminy has become a more mature player. He can pace his innings very well. More than that, he is bowling very well now-a-days. We can bank on him to bowl four overs. He has become an all-rounder in this limited form of cricket. Keeping in view all these things, we picked him."
Speaking of bowlers, Chennai Super Kings' Mohit Sharma has caught the eye with his deadly slower ones, especially at the death. Sekar observed: "Mohit is a much-improved bowler. After being dropped from the Indian team, he has come back very well," Sekar said.
With the action shifting to India from this weekend, Sekar said, "There won't be much difference in the conditions. In India, you can prepare pitches to your taste and the home side tends to have the advantage."
Sekar said that this year's league will be a well-contested one. "All the teams have evened out. It was not that Chennai Super Kings were very powerful or (defending champions) Mumbai Indians were very powerful. That is why we have these kind of results. It is good for the league. All the top teams have lost. It is fine that KXIP are winning. This league will see the Net Run Rate come into play. More than needing to win nine matches, I think eight wins will see a team through," Sekar said.
Though his team had only two wins in five matches in UAE, Sekar was all praise for the conditions. "The wickets were good at all the places without any awkward turn. Dubai and Abu Dhabi stadiums are world-class. The ICC Cricket Academy offered excellent practice facilities. This will really create a lot of interest in the Gulf."