Apocalypse then: Re-charge

Match#41: Delhi Daredevils v/s Kochi Tuskers Kerala

Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

Form Guide: DD– Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Win,
                     KTKLoss, Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss,

The unthinkable has happened. Somewhere, RA.One is smiling- if he/it/she can. KKR is top of the table. Above Mumbai Indians. Above Chennai Super Kings too. And (shiver) they have a superior net run rate! And they are refusing to collapse!
IPL-4 is truly alive and kicking (us ‘experts’ in the groin).

Even more shocking- Delhi Daredevils are not bottom anymore. Not even close, in fact. Is the world coming to an end? Is 2012 truly the year? (by then, PWI and KTK will be debutants no more, hopefully)

One would have never really expected this day to arrive so soon- the day Delhi is actually making itself seen in the middle of the table- above 3 superior (in quality) teams. That debutants Kochi have weathered the storm only to be pushed back into a tornado only proves that the new teams will take time to adjust to this T20 bash- and not unlike football, Pune and Kochi (the new comers) find themselves bottom of the league trying hard to get used to the pressures and quality of ‘top level’ cricket (and cricketers)

A single win has made a lot of difference to the oxygen-starved Daredevil team- and it had to be Viru who performed the mouth-to-mouth on every single player on his team at the risk of coming across as ‘strange’ or ‘queer’. But it was worth it- for Kochi were reeling from the effects of man-slaughter much after Delhi finished their innings- so much so that even Mahela refused to bat like Jayawardene.

How the tables have turned- so very literally.

Delhi Daredevils: (Semi finals 2008, 2009)

The whipping boys of IPL 2011 have done a ‘prestige’. They have made their reputation and their previous ‘aura’ re-appear after a brief illusion. With Venugopal Rao finally failing (and how), it was left to the invisible players to prove their worth. Nagar and Birt (and Pathan to a smaller extent) came through with grounded colours to prove the value of ‘team-play’- even in a unidimensional team like Delhi’s.

What was even more heartening to watch was the way Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar- the forgotten souls of Indian cricket- bowled with aggression and a pure intention to pick up wickets- and this time, at the cost of lesser runs. A rare occurrence indeed, especially when Van Der Merwe starts to resemble Botha with his bowling skills.

 

Cashback, skipper?

 

Whatever it is, the Daredevils may not be completely back on track- or it may be a bit too late- but rising like a phoenix against bumbling newcomers who are fast taking over the reputation of ‘party crashers’ and ‘one-match wonders’ (against Mumbai, bah), will do Viru’s confidence and hangover a world of lime-induced good.

Having thoroughly outplayed K-040000 (remember Deccan?), the Daredevils will be delighted to know that they are, once again, going to face K-040000. At home, no less (though one is not sure how much that might help Delhi).

Barely have Kochi recovered from the nightmare run that they have endured in order to arouse suspicions of similarity to their fellow pals Pune, and they might have to do an encore- this time for the starving North-Indian fans.

Player to watch out for: Van Der Merwe
Even the Daredevils might be wise enough to not want to change a winning combination- and hence, one will see the underrated South-African all-rounder (yes, all-rounder, mind you) take the field against Kochi today. With his left-arm spin working wonders (the latest fad these days), Van Der Merwe will hope to be promoted up the batting order for a hit or two against a rather-disillusioned Kochi outfit- who have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. A South-Indian is instantly noticeable in the capital city- and a whole South Indian team (technically) stand no chance at all.

Kochi Tuskers Kerala:

When a team beats a charging Mumbai and loses to a destroyed Delhi side in a matter of two weeks, one cannot help but compare them to the English team of World Cup 2011. Everyone knows how their campaign ended- especially Mahela- who was instrumental in making sure that inconsistency is nothing but an abomination of evil intentions.

To find himself captaining a team that is trying hard to emulate the much-maligned England ODI team now, will be a bit of an irony (apart from a laughing matter among his Sri-Lankan teammates)

The fun and games are truly over for this under-balanced Kochi side- which only highlights an observation made back in the past: ‘If Ravindra Jadeja is your best player consistently, your team is in deep trouble’. Well, no offense to Jadeja, but this team is drowning faster than Kieron Pollard’s international career.

 

Fooled you all!

 

With Mahela himself having player at numbers 1,2,3 and 4 through this tournament- it is obvious that the concept of ‘structure’ is quite alien to this Orange team. Once expectations reared its ugly head after they comprehensively outplayed Mumbai, Kochi seemed to have shrugged them off with the grace of Atlas and the ineffectiveness of Inzamam-Ul-Haq’s acceptance speech.

What will disappoint the team the most is that S. Sreesanth seems to be bowling like a dream suddenly- and that is the last thing they need right now. A 4-over spell that may have done his confidence wonders (we might have preferred it in the World Cup final, but never mind) is a sign of good things to come from this Kochi fireball- atleast for the next 2-3 balls or so- until he is tonked for six above mid-wicket by a smiling Viru.

Oh, did I mention?- Sree was not in the team when Kochi were on their 3-game winning spree. Just saying.

Player to watch out for: S Sreesanth
No, you are not seeing things. Yes, Sree is in this category, finally. He has earned recognition of some sorts- and this is the maximum one can give him for now. Until his team starts winning (and the batting clicks- for which he is not responsible, I admit), his spells will go unnoticed- much like Brian Lara’s tragic international career this side of 1995.

On second thought, being the worst player in a good team was a bit more comforting than being the best player (by far) in a clueless team.

Prediction:

One does not see Kochi lifting themselves up for this one- especially now that the Daredevils have convinced Viru to treat the T20 format like the Test format (yes, you heard correct). Things look ominous for both teams though- still not in the reckoning for a knockout spot yet- but a win here for Delhi can briefly spark hopes of a hope-against-hope comeback from the depths of orange oblivion.

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