DD aim to turn things around

DD aim to turn things around

Embattled Daredevils take on wounded Kings XI Punjab

DD aim to turn things around

When Delhi Daredevils crumbled to 98 runs in their opening Indian Premier League-9 match against Kolkata Knight Riders, its followers were stabbed with a feeling of déjà vu. It was like watching a repeat telecast of their previous outings.

As they gear up to face Kings XI Punjab in the first home game of the season, Daredevils would be eager to quash their losing ways.

Their last eight seasons, where they have reached the semifinals twice, have spelt disappointment. Since the inaugural season in 2008, the franchise owners have been fervently revamping the squad but seldom got satisfactory results. The last three seasons of Daredevils have been particularly insipid, having finished in the penultimate seventh position last year. The bottom place was taken by Kings XI after experiencing the high of reaching the finals in 2014.

This year the Daredevils have raised the excitement by roping in former India captain Rahul Dravid as the mentor to work alongside head coach Paddy Upton. The run fest of Shreyas Iyer on domestic circuit, the form of Quinton de Kock, and fearless striking of West Indian Carlos Brathwaite in the World T20 final against England had further boosted the hopes of a turnaround.  But after the manner in which they capitulated against seam and spin alike during their nine-wicket loss to Knight Riders, hopes quickly turned into fears.

Daredevils batting possesses clean hitters in De Kock, Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, and Brathwaite, but it lacks in experience. The middle-order, too, appears flaky and perhaps including JP Duminy could address the issue somewhat. The bowling led by captain Zaheer Khan wasn’t impressive either.

Zaheer, who himself was playing competitive cricket after a long gap, was expensive. 

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was the sole-wicket-taker against KKR and could find more spinners joining him at Kotla, if the pitch plays out to its traditional nature.

Much like Daredevils, Kings XI have been the under-performers of the league. This year they appointed a new captain in South African David Miller in place of Australian George Bailey, who is no longer the part of the franchise. Like Daredevils, Kings XI, too, are coming from an opening round loss. Against Gujarat Lions, they managed to rustle up 161/6.

Their openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra had given them a flying start but the middle-order, comprising Miller, Glenn Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha, misfired. It took a 22-ball 33 by Marcus Stoinis to help Kings XI post a decent total before blitzkriegs by Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik handed Gujarat the five-wicket victory.

The loss aside, the Kings XI batting has the potential to hold up against the best of international bowling. Their bowling has the likes of recently-retired Mitchell Johnson, who, however, looked a pale shadow of his former self against Gujarat. He is supported by Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma in the pace-department while Stoinis, Axar Patel and Pardeep Sahu comprise the spin attack.

These are early days in the competition but a good start can always help kick in the much needed momentum.

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