Embattled Daredevils hope to corner glory

Embattled Daredevils hope to corner glory

Embattled Daredevils hope to corner glory

So near yet so very far. This has been the journey of Delhi Daredevils who have made it to the semifinals three times (2008, 2009, 2012) in five editions of the IPL with some spellbinding performances only to fumble unerringly at the crucial stage.

It is hard to fathom, for the team management, how after producing such rousing performances in the league, Daredevils have failed to make the final even once.There have been times when Daredevils dominated the league to occupy the top slot but failed to carry the momentum in the knockout rounds. The way they ruled the league stage last year was so impressive but equally disappointing was their meek surrender against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings in the elimination stage.

This year Daredevils find themselves fraught with a series of problems even before the start. Their best batsman of the last edition, Kevin Pietersen, will miss the season with a knee injury. His replacement, Jesse Ryder, was brutally bashed up in a bar-related incident to land up in a hospital hours before he was to leave for Delhi. Virender Sehwag, the man who led from the front last year, is battling a prolonged form slump.

With Sehwag relinquishing captaincy, the mantle was passed to Sri Lankan great Mahela Jayawardene, who, however will not be able to play in Chennai because of political reasons. Daredevils are now left with the task of finding replacements for Pietersen, Ryder and an injured Varun Aaron.

The good news for them is that speedster Umesh Yadav is fit again. He would have a new-ball partner in South African quick Morne Morkel, who was one of the most successful bowlers last year. The presence of crafty Ashish Nehra would also boost the pace-attack. Nehra, who represented Pune Warriors last year, was traded with Ross Taylor, who had a lukewarm outing last year.

Daredevils, at the auction this time, focused on roping in quality all-rounders. South Africa’s Johan Botha and Sri Lanka’s Jeevan Mendis are not only effective tweakers but handy with the bat as well. Their presence would boost the spin quotient headed by South African Roelof van der Merwe and Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who made a fantastic debut last year. The presence of Irfan Pathan and West Indian Andre Russel would only add to their options.

Their domestic picks in promising Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav and Punjab seamer Siddharth Kaul could pay dividends. The batting boasts of swashbuckling opener in David Warner, Unmukt Chand, Venugopala Rao and Naman Ojha. Chand’s two centuries in the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament must have been reassuring for the side.It will be a battle against all odds for Daredevils, who launch their campaign with a tough away-outing against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). At home, the team, as always, would pray for a decent playing surface at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

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