Delhi eye revival under new captain

In the last fortnight, Delhi Daredevils have endured the worst of the new season. They have faced a string of defeats, a shrinking fan base and their new captain Gautam Gambhir stepping down. The team can now choose to plummet further or bounce back under the fresh leadership of young Shreyas Iyer, starting with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) who visit the Feroz Shah Shah Kotla stadium on Friday.

Coming into the contest, KKR are a well-rested unit which is returning to the competitive fold after the gap of five days. Ironically, Gambhir has led KKR to IPL title twice before he took over the reins of Daredevils. If he is picked for the contest, he will be captaining neither. It, though, will not be a surprise if Gambhir, upset over his underperformance, decides to sit out.

As it is, Daredevils are treading in choppy waters. With five defeats out of six matches, they are at the bottom of the table and face the arduous task of winning seven out of their remaining eight matches. With the margin of error this slim, Iyer and coach Ricky Ponting will have to whip up fresh combinations and strategies to prolong Daredevils’ stay in the competition.

In the bowling, Trent Boult and Liam Plunkett, in his maiden IPL outing against Kings XI Punjab, have been impressive, and even young Avesh Khan worked up appreciable pace. However, it is the batting that needs to step up.

The opening slot is an area of worry. In the six games, they have already tried three opening partners with Gambhir. Iyer, 23, has stroked gallant half-centuries in the last two games. He had single-handedly got Daredevils close to the finishing line against Kings XI, but didn’t get enough support. The form of Rishabh Pant in the middle order is encouraging but Glenn Maxwell has disappointed. Unless the top order gets its house in order, Daredevils will find the going tough.

KKR, meanwhile, have no such troubles on the batting front. Twice in their six matches, their batsmen have crossed 200-run mark. The Dinesh Karthik-led unit, though, is returning from a nine-wicket defeat against Kings XI and with three losses and three wins is placed at the fourth place.

With Daredevils already struggling with confidence, KKR will spare no effort in going for the kill. They have a decent bowling attack, which includes quality spinners in Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla. In fact, KKR have already registered a 71-run victory over the hosts when the two teams met earlier in the month. Going into the contest, the Kolkata franchise surely holds an edge over Daredevils, who prepares for another test of skills and crucially, the character.

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Delhi eye revival under new captain

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