Ashes to Ashes: Delhi to Dust

Match#33: Delhi Daredevils v/s Kolkata Knight Riders

Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

Form Guide: DD– Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss |  KKR– Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss

The good news for the Daredevils is that they showed unmistakable signs of life without their openers firing. So much for the conspiracy theories, eh Viru? So what if they still lost (gutted, in fact)- atleast Delhi came close to causing ‘another’ upset.

The loss against an equally-inspired-to-lose RCB outfit has now confirmed Delhi as bottom-table specialists who will cause another stir or two mid-tournament to raise a few hopes- and then promptly remind everyone of their lack of firepower in the next game. With Delhi-boy Virat Kohli making a mockery of DD’s shocking decision of refusing to (still) buy him (and of Irfan Pathan’s price tag), the Daredevils must be cursing themselves for losing to a team that was once theirs. That Dilshan still continued to fail against all odds in the IPL must have soothed them along with the fact that AB returned to his too-quick-for-his-own-good ways by adhering to the formula that earned him 160-odd runs in IPL-3 for Delhi.

Having won just two out of their first 6 games, it is now safe to say that Sehwag is indeed a tired man- exhausted after a long World Cup, inspite of not having to run too much for his runs in the tournament. Mental strength is a quality too, you know?

Facing KKR at home will be a bit of a breather, though one is not sure if it could get any easier for DD now- considering every team that needs to burst into form chooses them as their confidence-boosting scapegoats.

They can take some solace from the fact that KKR were absolutely destroyed by the new-look RCB (Okay, just Gayle) a few days before they themselves managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of near-defeat. Hence, by that logic, they should comfortably be able to beat a KKR outfit who seemed to have lost their way a bit after a 3 game winning streak.

But if mild logic were the center stone to all things IPL, then S Sreesanth would have insisted on pink being the color of the Kochi team jersey. Well, he came close.

Delhi Daredevils: (Semi finals 2008, 2009)

So they had Bangalore on the ropes at one point after a stunning comeback. Morne Morkel finally proved his class too. And James Hopes came good too. Now if only all this could coincide with Warner and Sehwag getting them off to a half decent start- and the Daredevils could be a winning outfit. Consistently, hopefully.

‘This is purely an illusion of things to come’ 

How were they to know that Daniel Vettori bats too? After all, he spent only 3 years as part of the Daredevil outfit. Not enough, we say. Hence, Sehwag cannot be blamed for not attacking enough with his field placements being questioned at the end. He had only done what we all (couch-experts) would do in his situation- sit back and watch RCB lose it themselves. Next time, maybe.

Every IPL team should consider giving the Indian captains a bit of a rest sometime during this league stage. What is the point of watching them struggle and prod around as if they were, er, second best in the world?

By that logic, the Sri Lankan captains should be put in that category too. What? What paychecks? What are you talking about?

‘You guys make me look so good!’

To further rub some chaat masala into Delhi’s wounds, the Gambhir-led KKR (another ex-Delhi player) will be looking to justify their tag as post-2-game favorites by playing by the formbook.

For some reason, every team that faces Delhi nowadays seems to have atleast 2 MAJOR ex-daredevils in their squad. They must feel a lot like the Indian national team in the current world scenario- where every other team seems to have enforced a mandatory requirement of atleast 2 Indian-origin (diplomatically put) players in their squads at any point of time.
What? Imran Tahir is Pakistani? Oh…

Off-topic, a little known stat: Delhi has bought Irfan Pathan and Y. Nagar at the price of Bangalore buying T. Dilshan, AB De Villiers, Chris Gayle and Daniel Vettori. Ahem.

Player to watch out for: Morne Morkel
There are only so many players from this team that can be consistently put in this category. Morkel has made it twice already- clearly proving to be a standout amongst the current lot of bowlers there. Which, in turn, is not saying much.

Kolkata Knight Riders: (6th place 2008)

One cannot suppress a giggle when KKR’s best performance (to be written next to their name) reads 6th place every time their name shows up. Remember, there were 8 teams for the last 3 years. Their consistency remains unmatched. Okay, maybe Chennai is as consistent- but in a slightly different sort of way.

They will hope the giggle won’t turn into a ear-shattering-tear-inducing-deep-booming guffaw at the end of this tournament- for they might become the sole case of argument for actually considering a 2-tier league in this format.

Promoting Yusuf Pathan seemed to have nullified the effect that Jacques Kallis creates when batting first (read confused) against RCB, but even another Gambhir special was not enough to nullify the pyrotechnics of a disgruntled-visibly-heartbroken national West Indian reject. Kallis needs to be given a piece of paper to remind him that they may not always be chasing down 140-odd scores where he can take his own sweet time to settle in and then leave the ‘exploding’ to the better-equipped big-hitters (read every other batsman) in the team.

The bowling, led by Balaji and Shakib, is still one of the strongest in the league- and except for a major blip against RCB- they have consistently restricted other batting line-ups to lesser-than-average totals. That their batsmen use most of such chases to contemplate the deeper meaning of life while at the crease- does not really balance out their good effort in the field. One feels the time has arrived to give Kallis a bowl or two- and use his all-round capabilities to the hilt.

Maybe he will be tired enough to contemplate batting down the order and letting the Orange Cap fall onto someone else’s head.

‘Looking good is what matters. Ask VVS.’

Player to watch out for: Yusuf Pathan
The trailer has successfully played- and Y. Pathan, the film, is only seconds away from releasing. With his consistent bowling displays and reliable big-hitting (given more of a chance than Pollard for Mumbai), this man seems to be KKR’s all-round answer to…well, KKR’s Kallis.

May the Lord be with any team who decides to drop a few catches and give Y. Pathan an extended bat for a change.

Prediction:

A KKR turnaround, at all costs, is what the world (East of India and West of Bangladesh) expects. And so it may happen. 3 losses in a row would be a near-disaster that would put them in the league of the opposition they are facing today.

Also, we have no intentions of watching a downcast-pity-me-but-I-will-smile-sadly-for-you SRK promoting a superhero film within the next few months.


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