Loss, loss, win, win, win and loss. The numbers are even and so Kochi Tuskers seem to have done reasonably well so far ahead of their IPL seventh-round clash against Deccan Chargers at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on Wednesday. On the contrary, a loss-loss-win-loss-win-loss record may not enthuse the Chargers as much as they need to add one here to the win-column to be competitive in this edition.
But what makes this encounter special is that even Kochi Tuskers Kerala, with their three sensational wins against Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders and with their underdogs tag may not be happy with their overall performance as the expectations have skyrocketed against ground reality.
At the start of the season, KTK might have started this match as the underdogs. However, with the Chargers not looking exactly a formidable side, languishing at the bottom of the table, Kochi could well consider themselves the favourites to win this match.
Despite the three wins, Kochi are beset with problems in many areas. The only segments that look foolproof for them right now are the top-order batting and fielding. Even in the top-order, the absence of Brendon McCullum is a worry for them and it is imperative that he opens the innings to give the home side a flying start. The good news from the Kochi camp is that the Kiwi has recovered from his shoulder injury.
But that does not solve KTK’s problems. The middle-order was not tested in two of the three major wins and when it was, as was the case in the three losses, the Tuskers looked chicken-hearted. Ravindra Jadeja and Hodge have finished the job only when McCullum and Mahela Jayawardene piloted the team to winning positions.
The team is in the process of finding the right balance between the foreign and domestic players. Though they have some foreign talent warming their bench such as all-rounder Michael Klinger and Owais Shah, they have not gone beyond the Muralitharan-or-Thisara Perera formula as they cannot take more than four outsiders anyway. It is possible that after the crushing defeat at the hands of Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur, they may consider Hodge for either Klinger or Shah to join the action.
The Chargers are not a happy lot either. They have probably one of the best balanced bowling sides with a formidable mix of pace and spin but their batting has not clicked so far.