x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Daredevils desperate for a win

Vital game for Delhi when they visit the Mumbai Indians as Chennai and Kolkata look set for epic battle.

Gautam Gambhir, captain of the Delhi Daredevils, says his team must improve  to beat Mumbai today.
Gautam Gambhir, captain of the Delhi Daredevils, says his team must improve to beat Mumbai today.

The Mumbai Indians are through to the semi-finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the King's XI Punjab are through, period, and half a dozen teams are left to fight it out for one of the three places still up for grabs in the final four. Two matches tonight will shed considerable light on the situation. The Delhi Daredevils visit Mumbai in the opener, followed by the Chennai Super Kings versus the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Chepauk Stadium.

"This is the most important game for us because we don't want to get into a desperate situation of having to win two out of two," Gautam Ghambir, the Delhi captain, said in a television interview after Sunday's defeat by Punjab, who are still having fun spoiling the chances of other teams. "We need to pull our socks up and play as a team, not only in one department but all three. So it is important to give everything to win this game and get the momentum back as we come to the business end of the tournament."

Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai captain, has no such problems - but he still wants his team keep maintain their performances in front of the Indians' home crowd. His classy 89 not out against the Rajasthan Royals on Sunday sealed Mumbai's place in the last four, but Tendulkar has no intention of stepping off the gas. "We are happy to become the first team to reach the semis but we want to continue and win as many games as possible," he said in a television interview. "Obviously there is no pressure on us but we would like to win as many games as possible. It is a good habit."

Tonight's second game has the makings of an epic battle, with Chennai and Kolkata going into the match on 10 points each. The Knight Riders have had a roller-coaster ride and Sourav Ganguly, their captain, was fuming after their defeat by the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He dubbed his team's effort on the field as "absolute rubbish" and even went to the extent of saying they did not deserve a place in the last four if they continued to play ordinary cricket.

His tirade may have shaken up his players as they prepare to take on another team trying to get their game right. "This is the critical part of the tournament and we need to be at our best," said Ganguly in a television interview. "Our performances have been in patches with one good game followed by an ordinary effort. We just need to go out there and win the remaining matches, possibly go all the way from now on. We need little contributions in all three departments and from all the players. All these add up at the end." MS Dhoni, the Chennai captain, had similar thoughts. "We would like to win all three games from here," he said in a television interview. "We have a superior run rate but it's still better to win all three games. It's already tight for the six teams but should get a little clear after this game." * Compiled by Amith Passela, with agencies

Watch Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils, 2.30pm, and Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders, 6.30pm, both on Cricone IPL statistics