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Strugglers lock horns in Delhi

From Pragya Tiwari New Delhi: May 6, 2014
Delhi Daredevils skipper Kevin Pietersen, who is yet to fire big in this edition of the IPL, needs to lead from the front to lift his embattled side. PTI Image

After seven matches in the 2014 Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves in the same boat. The two teams have struggled in the tournament so far and they need to get their act together before it gets too late. On Wednesday, Daredevils and Knight Riders will face each other at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

Both sides have two wins and five losses in their account but Knight Riders are two places ahead of Daredevils at fifth position because of a better run rate.

If Daredevils, despite an improved batting display, were humbled by eight wickets by two-time champions Chennai Super Kings on Monday, Knight Riders endured a shock 10-run defeat against Rajasthan Royals. In their fourth consecutive defeat Knight Riders lost six wickets for just two runs, slipping from a commanding 121/0 to 123/6 while chasing 170 runs.

The return to form of captain Gautam Gambhir, who scored a brisk 54 runs on Monday, had little bearing on the team’s fortunes. Their batting had been flaky. Robin Uthappa at the top has played couple of good innings but others in the middle order like Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan need to chip in more often.

The bowling led by R Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav holds promise with West Indian off-spinner Sunil Narine capable of creating impact on the slow Kotla pitch. They also have options in Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russell. South African veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who sat out in the last match, too could be effective in Delhi conditions.
In contrast Daredevils’ bowlers have fallen short of expectations.

Seamers Mohammad Shami, Wayne Parnell and Jaydev Unadkat have not been probing enough and the opposition batsmen had little difficulty in negotiating them. Left-arm spinner in Shahbaz Nadeem could barely trouble the batsmen and need to come up with different tricks.

It was surprising that Jean Paul Duminy, who is capable of bowling effective off-breaks, was not given opportunity by captain Kevin Pietersen against Chennai Super Kings. Duminy, however, had been in stellar form with the bat throughout the tournament. He and Kedar Jadhav powered Delhi to a fighting total on Monday after Dinesh Karthik propped up the scoring with half-century.

In the absence of quality attack, Delhi batsmen need to shoulder more responsibility. Their openers Quinton de Kock and Murali Vijay have given them suitable starts and it’s time the middle order starts firing consistently. The home fans are waiting for a big knock from Pietersen.

With two more home matches after Wednesday (against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab) lined up for Daredevils, it is a good opportunity for them to storm back into the competition.


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