The race so far has been far more exciting than initially predicted. And technically, there is still a chance for each of the teams in the fray to get to the play-offs of this year's IPL. Only that they should stay focused on the task at hand in the remaining matches and play to their full potential.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Deccan Chargers come face to face at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Wednesday. Needless to say, the tie — the seventh for both — is crucial for both the teams as this provides them an opportunity to pitchfork back into contention.
Far from impressive
Both the teams had a far from impressive outing in the sixth round, with KTK allowing itself to be overhauled by Rajasthan Royals and DC having been overhauled by Sachin Tendulakr's Mumbai Indians.
The home team fans will definitely be hoping for a good all-round display by their team which, until its defeat a couple of days, had been placed as high as the third spot in the overall rankings, as a result of its stunning three-in-a-row wins over Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. The team under the seasoned Mahela Jayawardene was virtually on a rampage at that stage, backed by solid individual performances by Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel, R.P. Singh besides the skipper himself. However, with McCullum out due to an unfortunate shoulder injury, the team just came a cropper against the spin wizardry of the ageless Shane Warne, away from home.
The priority for KTK would be nothing less than an outright win. However, this again would depend upon the availability of McCullum, who is now likely to undergo a fitness test on Wednesday morning, should he recover from his injury and report fit.
His absence would mean a certain void at the top, key as he is in providing a blazing start, whether KTK opts to bat first or chase.
On the other hand, DC finds itself at the bottom of the table with just two wins from six matches. The team having hit a rough patch due to the inability of its players to contribute to their side's cause as one unified outfit. Obviously the chips are down for the 2009 champion side and the match should be a real test for the team and its hopes of keeping its chances alive.
And crucial would be the display of its skipper Kumar Sangakkara and the rest of its batsmen, who oddly enough, are yet to find their touch. The lone exception to this is Shikhar Dhawan who has been in good form, attempting to keep the DC innings together on more occasions than one from his position at the top.
However, things could turn better if the skipper, Sunny Sohal and Bharat Chipli fire together with the bat and utility players like Daniel Christian chip in.
On the bowling front, the team looks to Dale Steyn, Manpreet Gony and Amit Mishra to deliver. Crucial too will be the form of Ishant Sharma, who is struggling at present.
With the sides all set to play out an exciting encounter, the only threat is the summer rain which has been lashing the city for the last few days. It had rained when KTK played against Chennai Super Kings last week, forcing the match to be reduced to 17 overs-a-side. One hopes the rain stays away.