Delhi Daredevils haven’t appeared in this T20 cricket Champions League tournament since the opening day and the long rest, coupled with an emphatic victory over Kolkata, makes them the hot favourites against Auckland Aces (4.30pm BST, Friday).
Auckland were considered the rank outsiders to qualify from Group A and despite an impressive opening victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders, the quality of the Kiwi’s was found lacking when they succumbed to a heavy defeat at the hands of the Titans on Wednesday.
Those odds were to be expected after the most recent set of results although the Aces have already shown that they are capable of causing upsets. One of the problems has been a reliance on Azhar Mahmood, a T20 specialist who has been devastating with both bat and ball in the earlier stages of this contest.
Impressive though Mahmood undoubtedly is, he cannot carry the side on his own. He will be vital to any success that Auckland have in this contest but he must receive support from elsewhere. Support in the bowling department may not come from Andre Adams, who can be a prolific wicket taker on his day. But he seemed to suffer a muscle strain in the latter stages of the defeat against the Titans.
Adams’ absence would weaken Auckland further and make Delhi even stronger contenders to take the four points in this contest.
There are no such problems in the Delhi bowling line-up even though this was expected to be an area of weakness for Mahela Jayawardene’s side. An experienced attack of Irfan Pathan, Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav proved too strong for KKR at the weekend and Morkel in particular will be a major threat on familiar South African surfaces.
If Delhi just shade things in the bowling department, their batting is much stronger, on paper at least, than Auckland’s. Jayawardene opens the batting with Virender Sehwag while Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor provide the quality in the middle order. Even the unfamiliar players such as Unmunkt Chand are in form and an Aces attack that is potentially without one of its key bowlers is facing an unenviable task.
Batting is another area where Auckland have been relying a little too heavily on Azhar Mahmood and after the Pakistani scored back-to-back half centuries, first in qualifying and then in the tournament proper, he made just seven against the Titans.
The Aces have plenty of international quality elsewhere however. Even if Mahmood fails again, the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme and Lou Vincent are capable players who can mount or chase any size of total.
Auckland Aces v Delhi Daredevils Betting Tips
Even at this early stage of the tournament, Delhi are looking as if they are the most dangerous team in the competition and they fully justify their favourites tag for this game. The Aces should be competitive but a lack of quality in depth and an injury to a key bowler should result in a comfortable victory for the Daredevils.