Delhi Daredevils’ continued faith in Irfan Pathan is baffling. He may deliver here against Pune Warriors; at some point he needs to.

It is quite possible he may not deliver, as has been the trend this season. But his utter failure has hurt Daredevils the most since the management had touted him as a valuable player and he has come a cropper, especially against quality opposition in this edition of the Indian Premier League.

Seventy three runs in seven innings and a mere four wickets is Pathan’s ‘grand’ contribution to the faith reposed in him by team mentor T.A. Sekar. It has been a tough phase for Sekar, easily one of the most astute cricket minds on the circuit.

Losing Yogesh Nagar early and an injury to Venugopala Rao has dealt a blow to Daredevils’ batting strength and replacements have been delayed too, making it a rough ride for the team.

At the end of the eight matches Pathan has figured in all along with skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Umesh Yadav and David Warner, Daredevils is languishing at the bottom. Pune Warriors is one slot higher, having won two matches.

Complicated plans

Batting woes have only complicated Daredevils’ plans this year. Virender Sehwag missing the first three matches and the string of defeats have put the likes of Manprit Juneja and Kedar Jadhav under stress. If they have succumbed to the pressure, the blame lies with the seniors, with the exception of David Warner and Jayawardene.

Daredevils had looked up to Pathan as a match-winner; he looked one at least on paper, and given his ‘talent’ the all-rounder was expected to be the key player. He has looked miserable and will be under scrutiny when he takes the field on Sunday as the Shahid Veer Narayan Singh Stadium makes its debut as a cricket venue.

Taking the initiative

Presented to the media here on Friday, Pathan spoke of his team’s need to play to “potential.” Hopefully, he will take the initiative even as Pune Warriors steels itself to stay in the eighth slot in this nine-team competition. Aaron Finch, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rahul Sharma have been among the consistent performers for Pune Warriors.

The curator, Shamim Mirza, has laid out a “perfect” pitch. Bounce, he insisted, would be the feature. “In fact I have had to work on reducing the bounce,” he said. “But the ball will come onto the bat nicely. And that will ensure an exciting contest.”

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