Match#19: Delhi Daredevils v/s Deccan Chargers
Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi
Form Guide: DD- Loss, Loss, Win, DC- Loss, Loss, Win, Loss,
Five losses in seven games. Between them, these two remarkable teams have managed to win just two games. And to top it all- both the wins were upsets of gigantic proportions (if one can call it that anymore). Okay, maybe the Daredevils were doomed after the auction itself- but so were the Royals in 2008. Or so we thought. *wry smile on Sehwag’s face*
After a morale-boosting win against table-toppers Pune, the Daredevils(as the tournament goes on, the names seem to have different interpretations) seem to have figured out the elusive formula- that both their openers cannot afford to be mutually exclusive of eachother if they must win a game. One of them firing is simply not enough. Both of them failing together is definitely an unparalleled disaster of the magnitude right up there with the probability of one of the pre-match experts predicting a correct result (or the favourites actually living upto the tag bestowed upon them)
The Chargers, just when we thought had finally found the right balance- confirmed their status as slow starters once again with a star-struck performance- duly blown away by IPL’s newest sensation- first with ball, then with the bat. One is not sure they expected Paul Valthaty to bowl- or even have the ability to bowl. In fact, I am quite sure we spotted Sangakkara sitting at the corner of the dugout in a John Nash posture desperately going through five year old domestic match scoresheets to figure out if the man could spin the ball. As they may have discovered (with considerable surprise), he could definitely not spin the ball.
And with Steyn going wicketless, the rest of the bowling (except, again, Mishra) could not do much but ruin the immediate future of most other teams- simply by easing Adam Gilchrist back into striking form.
Delhi Daredevils: (Semi finalists 2008, 2009)
The Daredevils seemed hell-bent on proving their detractors wrong (or atleast moderately wrong). Hence, they stuck to a tried-and-tested strategy- a plan that has tasted not less than zero percent failure in this IPL so far.
‘I’m not worth much in Australian dollars, am I?’
It sounded simple- Concede anything more than 180 runs when bowling first. Either that or buy Sachin Tendulkar immediately and convince him to score a century in the first innings of the game. Both ways, a high degree of success while chasing seems to be guaranteed- as illogically twisted as it may sound.
Mind you- executing this plan is not as easy as it sounds. Convincing the livewire Ashok Dinda to bless Yuvraj Singh with tempting half-volleys succulent enough to smash into the stands with typical dismissive arrogance- is, of course, never an easy task. After all, Yuvraj Singh is not one to cash in on opportunities like this- until recently in an unrecognized ICC tournament where he was rumoured to have discovered some kind of bowling form.
That the resourceful Venugopal Rao decided to wait till the penultimate over to work his batting magic once again was always on the cards.
That he holed out at the end of the same over- is a subtle testament to his Indian finishing abilities: that you always must leave it to someone less capable than yourself, whatever the situation. Share the burden.
Delhi will now look to carry on their miraculous form against the unheralded Deccan Chargers and prove once and for all that they are definitely not prime candidates for the Wooden Spoon this year. Hopefully, Rao will not get misty-eyed while facing his ex-team (and maker)
Player to watch out for: Virender Sehwag
The man who can make boarding a local train look casual is back- with the elegant lack of footwork and special hand-eye coordination that puts the lead act of a slasher film to shame. His famous cameos are worth their weight in Punjabi gold- simply because even a start (read double figure score) is much appreciated in the larger scheme of things for this potentially-explosive team.
Morne Morkel may feel a bit let down by the fact that his hard work and accuracy is continuously nullified by the consistently wayward effort by the rest of the bowlers- sometimes even resulting in him resigning to the fact that whatever he concedes, his batsman will definitely chase down. Of course, as demonstrated rather effectively against Mumbai, batting first does not really figure in the scheme of things. Plan B is not even an option.
Deccan Chargers: (Winners 2009)
Finally having discovered the concept of ‘home and away’ against Bangalore, Deccan decided not to surprise their home fans again and promptly went on to lose the next game to a team that has discovered that superheroes are not a myth anymore. The team management can be forgiven for wishing to travel back to a world where tension was ripe in the city and they could call DY Patil their home ground again. But alas, another team crashed their party- and no, it was not Mumbai! (though mighty damned close)
‘He can bowl TOO??! Ugh!’
Ishant Sharma has rediscovered some long-lost impossible-to-get-back form- thanks to Steyn literally taking a run-up with him (with useful advice) every delivery, but the others seem to be struggling a bit. Manpreet Gony is suffering from a disease called Munaf-a-softosis where he watches every delivery of his sail over the ropes with a serene unperturbed smile on his face. Ah, to be flying like that!
But when the highest wickettaker of the last season (the man that could have ended Laxman’s career with a manslaughter charge) is dropped from the team after just two games, the term ‘problem of plenty’ may not apply anymore. Pragyan Ojha simply needs to be given another opportunity.
Player to watch out for: Shikhar Dhawan
The ex-Delhi, ex-Mumbai opener (commonly known as the man who played out a maiden in the IPL final) looks to be back in the touch that helped him take the Mumbai Indians to the final last year.
Kumara Sangakkara is throwing away decent starts, which is very unlike him- and maybe he should take a leaf out of his batting partner’s (and ex vice-captain, best man, best friend and fellow sub-continental demon) Mahela Jayawardena’s book on how to pace a T20 innings without being violent.
Deccan look like favourites for this crucial battle that will probably dictate the rest of either team’s already floundering campaign. A win, though, may only be the beginning of a long trek uphill for both teams.
With each team in the league doing a great Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde impression, one is tempted to scrap the prediction part altogether and just enjoy a league that looks to be wider open than Abhishek Nayar’s batting stance.
But being a Paul (whether the octopus or the cricketer) seems to be working well for most people (who are already destined for greatness, thank you).