It's do-or-die for Delhi Daredevils
New Delhi: Following a paltry four points in eight games, Delhi Daredevils stare at the prospect of playing six virtual knockout League matches one after another – loss in any will cost a spot in the final four. The first of the do-or-die clashes starts with Rajasthan Royals at home turf here on Wednesday.
After a string of poor performances in the opening six games, the Delhi-based franchise saw a change in leadership as young Turk Shreyas Iyer took over the captaincy from seasoned veteran Gautam Gambhir.
The flamboyant batsman gave Daredevils a flying start on his captaincy debut as they handed a 55-run bashing to two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Iyer's 93 in the first innings dealt a telling blow to the travelling side.
However, they were soon brought down to earth as they lost to the mighty Chennai Super Kings by 13 runs in Pune on Monday. Shane Watson(78 off 40) and MS Dhoni (51 off 22) despatched Delhi bowlers all around the park.
Except for burly pacer Avesh Khan (who gave away 28 runs in four overs), the rest of the lot failed to trouble the Chennai batsmen.
Trent Boult has claimed 11 scalps in this IPL (tied for the purple cap with Sunrisers Hyderabad's Siddharth Kaul) but he has been leaking runs at an alarming rate.
Liam Plunkett's tight bowling in the death overs in preceding matches gave a false sense of security to DD, however, on Monday he failed to deliver, giving away 52 runs in three overs of his last IPLouting.
The Delhi batsmen have upped the ante in the last couple of matches as they amassed 417 runs in 40 overs. The team's shortcoming initially was making the powerplays count. The inclusion of Colin Munro (scoring at a stellar 172.92 strike rate) in the opening slot has finally helped Delhi get back into the groove as far as their batting is concerned.
Iyer still remains the mainstay of the batting order as he has been leading from the front ever since taking over the captaincy.
The much-hyped Rishabh Pant sporadically has played some good knocks but the gifted youngster has lacked consistency.
Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, have had their own demons to deal with. Returning after a two-year sabbatical, the Jaipur-based franchise have their backs to the wall with just six points from seven games and a loss on Wednesday will put them in a precarious situation.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane has been a key player with the bat for the Royals, but has failed to set the IPL alight this time around. The technically-sound batsman is yet to figure out his position in the batting line-up as he often opens or comes in at no 3.
The find of last season's IPL -Rahul Tripathi has not been able to replicate last year's heroics. Despite repeated faith in him by the skipper, the Maharashtra batsman has just managed 79 runs in 7 innings and might warm the benches for Wednesday's game.
Spin all-rounder Krisnappa Gowtham, who showcased his batting prowess against Mumbai Indians, could be the trump card for the high stakes Kotla encounter.