The Indian Premier League is still in its first fortnight with the race for the four spots in the playoffs yet to hot up. Most teams are searching for the ‘right’ combination. The stronger teams are yet to assert themselves as they would like to. The element of surprise, sudden twists to the tale and last-over finishes have come at regular intervals to keep the audience hooked.
In the midst, Delhi Daredevils occupies the most unenviable position. Five straight losses have put the team firmly in the cellar. Since each team plays 16 matches and minimum of nine wins are required to ensure a place in the playoffs, DD has almost reached a must-win situation.
In fact, over the next four days, DD hosts Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. Should the sequence of defeats continue, DD might well become the first team to go out of reckoning for the playoffs, that too, even before the halfway stage of the league.
Mahela Jayawardene, who has led DD well despite the tough results, feels the team is getting most of the things right. In the last two matches, DD fought splendidly against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Therefore, Jayawardene has reasons to feel the much-needed victory is not far.
CSK, with two defeats in four matches, too, is struggling by its own lofty standards. Barring the 10-wicket victory at Mohali, the top-order is yet to click. In the two defeats, the bowlers conceded more runs than what their batsmen could chase. Softened up by Pune Warriors in its previous match, CSK can be expected to come hard at a down-but-still-not-out DD.
Much depends on the kind of start DD gets. The law of averages favours Virender Sehwag to fire. David Warner has been in good touch. Jayawardene and Kedar Jadhav too have shown their ability under pressure.
The pace bowling has been disappointing. Tested names like Ashish Nehra, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan continue to look far less effective than Morne Morkel.
The battle between these teams, fighting to play to their reputation, should provide ample fireworks. Both teams look determined but DD appears far more desperate, and not without reason.