Aakash Chopra: It's been a strong start to IPL 2017

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Attendance has been strong so far.

The first week of the IPL has produced some close finishes and some performances to remember. It has also told us something about our misplaced beliefs, for most of us thought that the growing list of injured Indian players would adversely affect the viewership but that hasn’t been the case. Most grounds have been packed to the last seat and the viewing figures, we’ve been told, are excellent thus far. It has even been a marked improvement on last year which, in spite of the every Indian star’s availability, saw one of the poorest starts to an IPL season.

Last year’s tournament kicked off hot on the heels of three months of non-stop T20 cricket, which included the World T20 and Asia Cup. The first couple of weeks saw mostly lopsided games, which made matters worse. This year, though, the IPL has followed six months of high intensity Test cricket and that’s created the requisite appetite for the shortest format. Close finishes in the first week has further helped the cause. Herein lies the message for the governing bodies of cricket, there’s not just enough scope for all three formats to co-exist but also, each format’s popularity is relying on the other two formats. All will thrive if consumed in moderation.

Getting back to the start of this year’s IPL, though, Sunrisers Hyderabad has started the season where they left off last year – with the exception of getting more formidable. Their bowling was always one of the best in the league but with Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Moises Henriques firing this season, they are the team to beat. Their qualification to the play-offs shouldn’t be an issue, more a formality. While the reigning champions have looked good, 2016 runners-up RCB look a pale shadow of the unit they were last season. They are desperately waiting for Virat Kohli to return and change their fortunes but it might be a case of too little too late.

KKR changed their opening combination and, with it, their approach to T20 cricket. It was Chris Lynn’s catch in 2014 that changed their fortunes and it felt like his batting was going to the same this year but for his unfortunate injury that may end his season. Kolkata is a unit with depth and therefore are likely to find ways to stay relevant but his absence will be felt. Not to forget that Andre Russell isn’t there.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Lions have fielded a team of opening bowlers and, in doing so, seem to have forgotten the value of playing five bowlers of variety. Their record of taking only one wicket in the first two games should serve as a rude reminder to focus on their bowling for the following games. Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja’s return will give them hope and strength.

Mumbai Indians played with four bowlers in the first game and lost, then played with five proper bowlers in the second and won. While it’s not as simple as it might sound, the message is clear—play five proper bowlers in every single game. Most teams are forced to compromise on their batting depth to play the extra bowler but Mumbai is blessed to have three all-rounders in the Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard, and that should dictate a five-bowler strategy every time.

Like Gujarat seemed to forget about their bowling, Delhi Darevils seem to have forgotten about the value of a good batting group. In fact, GL’s batting and DD’s bowling would make an IPL winning side. The absence of JP Duminy and Quinton De Kock is putting too much pressure on their Indian recruits and while their bowling will still keep them in the hunt, their batting is likely to let them down more often than not.

Kings XI Punjab has looked a decent side with roles clearly defined for most of its players and Glenn Maxwell has also taken to captaincy like a duck to water. Meanwhile, Rising Pune Supergiant made some big moves before the season by spending 14.5 crore on Ben Stokes and appointing Steven Smith as their captain. Spending a huge amount to procure only one resource is a tactic laden with risk and its affects are already showing. Their bowling is so thin that no amount of shuffling is likely to address their woes. It won’t be surprising if they, once again, finish close to bottom.

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LIVE: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Delhi Daredevils

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Who will come out on top in Pune?

Rising Pune Supergiant welcome Delhi Daredevils to Pune for the ninth match of the 2017 Indian Premier League.

Pune have one win and one loss from their two opening games, while Delhi lost their sole game of the tournament so far.

The visiting side will be hoping to get their season up and running with a win, whereas Pune know victory will take them level with the early season pace-setters Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab.

You can follow every ball of the action with our in-play scorecard, commentary and stats from Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

We want to hear from you too, so share with us your predictions for the match and who you think will win this year’s tournament by commenting below, getting in touch via Twitter or Facebook.

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IPL Match 9 preview - RPS vs DD

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Who will come out on top in match nine?

The Indian Premier League action sees Rising Pune Supergiant host Delhi Daredevils in the ninth match of this year’s tournament and we have all your angles you covered.

Ahead of the match, we have the latest team news, time and date, as well as how you can watch all the action from the UAE.

DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO

Date: April 11, 2017 (Tuesday)

Time: 18:30 GST, 20:00 local time (IST), 14:30 GMT

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

WHERE TO WATCH, LIVE STREAMING INFO

TV: UAE – OSN Sports Cricket HD, India – Sony Six, Sony Six HD (English), Sony Max, Sony Max HD 3 (Hindi), UK – Sky Sports

Online streaming: hotstar.com, Hotstar app (in India only)

LIVE: Sport360.com.

TEAM NEWS, SQUADS, PREDICTED XIs

RPS SQUAD: Steve Smith (C), Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, MS Dhoni (W), Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur

It’s been one win and one loss for Pune from their first two games, their biggest plus point coming in the early for of star foreigners Steven Smith, Imran Tahir and Ben Stokes.

They have a settled looking XI already but there is room for manoeuvre with Faf du Plessis and Adam Zampa, in particular, unfortunate to miss out in the last game.

If one of those two were to come into the side, Dan Christian looks most likely to make way with either Zampa coming in to strengthen the bowling attack of Du Plessis the batting.

Having used six bowlers last time out, there is flexibility for a specialist to come in and replace Christian.

PREDICTED RPS XI: Rahane, Agarwal, Smith (c), Stokes, Dhoni, Tiwary, Christian, Bhatia, Chahar, Tahir, Dinda

DD SQUAD: Zaheer Khan (C), Ankit Bawne, Khaleel Ahmed, Corey Anderson, Murugan Ashwin, Sam Billings, Carlos Brathwaite, Pat Cummins, Shreyas Iyer, Angelo Mathews, CV Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Shahbaz Nadeem, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Pratyush Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Navdeep Saini, Sanju Samson, Shashank Singh, Aditya Tare, Jayant Yadav

Delhi were woeful with the bat last time out, bar the impressive Rishabh Pant, their lower middle-order collapsing in a manner the franchise has become too accustomed to.

Their bowlers made far more of an impact, Zaheer Khan (2-31) and Chris Morris (3-21) leading the line superbly and ably supported by the economical Shabhaz Nadeem (1-13).

There is likely to be change and Delhi do have options, with Jayant Yadav, Corey Anderson, Mohammed Shami and Kagiso Rabada all knocking on the door.

Most likely to make way would be Carlos Brathwaite who was disappointing with both bat and ball, Anderson possibly a favoured like-for-like replacement or a specialist with the bat to bolster their fire-power.

PREDICTED DD XI: Tare, Billings, Nair, Samson, Pant, Morris, Anderson, Cummins, Mishra, Nadeem, Zaheer (c)

FORM

(Last five matches – with latest match first)

RPS: L W W W L

DD: L L W L L

MATCH PREDICTION

RPS win with Delhi’s woes to continue.

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