Struggling Delhi Daredevils face a herculean task to bring their campaign back on track as they prepare to clash against the formidable Kings XI Punjab in their next Indian Premier League clash on Saturday.
Delhi are at the bottom of the points table, having suffered three defeats in four matches, while Punjab are in sparkling form with three victories in a row.
Delhi’s batting has mostly let them down but for the match against Pune Warriors when they successfully chased down a 180-plus score.
Delhi, wearing a completely new look in the fourth edition, are feeling the absence match-winning batsmen. High-class players such as Gautam Gambhir and Tillakaratne Dilshan have moved to other franchises and Delhi’s management must be repenting the decision to let them go.
Except for the openers — captain Virender Sehwag and David Warner — the hosts do not have reliable batsmen.
Their middle order has decent players in Y Venugopal Rao, Aaron Finch and all-rounder Irfan Pathan but they have not yet performed to the expectations.
Adding to the woes is form of Sehwag, who has not been consistent enough, but even if were to be in form, it will be difficult for him to steer the side to victories all the time single-handedly.
It’s time that other players perform and take the pressure off the openers. Young Indian players such as Naman Ojha and foreign recruits such as James Hopes have to justify their presence in the squad.
The bowling of the hosts is also weak. Paceman Morne Morkel is the only bowler who has left some impression on the rival batsmen.
Delhi badly need Ashok Dinda, Pathan and Hopes to fire. On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab are on a different plane altogether. Their top order has been so consistent with the bat that the middle-order has not yet been exposed enough to the firing line.
That’s their strength but could also be a weak link as lack of exposure may prove dangerous if the top-order fails.
Skippered by the inspiring Adam Gilchrist, who led Deccan Chargers to the title in the second edition, Punjab have already scored big upsets in the tournament by defeating Chargers and reigning champions Chennai Super Kings.
On Thursday they put up yet another dominating performance by thrashing Rajasthan Royals by 48 runs.
Their top-order is in prime form and key for the Delhi bowlers would be to get them out early.
But getting the top-order batsmen out won’t be an easy job as Adam Gilchrist, Paul Valthaty, Shaun Marsh and Dinesh Karthik are all in superb touch.
Also, Punjab bowlers did well in Thursday night’s clash with seamers Praveen Kumar and Ryan Harris providing a good start before spinners shone later on.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (C), Varun Aaron, Ajit Agarkar, Travis Birt, Robin Bist, Unmukt Chand, Ajit Chandila, Ashok Dinda, Aaron Finch, Robert Frylinck, James Hopes, Colin Ingram, Andrew McDonald, Morne Morkel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Yogesh Nagar, Prashant Naik, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Rajesh Pawar, Aavishkar Salvi, Sridharan Sriram, Roelof van der Merwe, Venugopal Rao, Vikas Mishra, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Tejaswi Yadav, Umesh Yadav and Vivek Yadav.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (C), Love Ablish, Amit Yadav, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Paul Valthaty, Siddharth Chitnis, Paras Dogra, Ryan Harris, David Hussey, Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, Ryan McLaren, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, David Miller, Abhishek Nayar, Nathan Rimmington, Nitin Saini, Shalabh Srivastava and Sunny Singh.