Where Pride and Fall go hand in hand

Match#68: Delhi Daredevils v/s Pune Warriors India
Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi
Form: DD- Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, 
           PWI- Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Loss

Easily the most pointless game of the tournament so far, no amount of exaggeration or decorated words can hype up this game- considering the sheer magnitude of the two games tomorrow. We’re talking about two teams that have won a TOTAL of 8 games among themselves. To put things into perspective, CSK have won 9 games. Already. 
It is all about the Wooden Spoon. No escaping it. No holding back. Expect some desperately insane performances (or some limp ‘I told you so’ performances) in a game that promises to be a splendidly boring battle of the equals- also known as the biggest underachievers of IPL 2011. Can Pune rise above the ashes and avoid being labeled as a no-hoper next year? Or can Delhi do what they were always destined to do? 
Sadly, we shall find out soon.
Delhi Daredevils: (Semi finals ’08, ’09)
Writing about the Daredevils without Sehwag is like the Chopras making a film without SRK in it- and the result, both ways, veers closer to destructive doom of diaboloical levels. Really, what can one say about this legendary team performance in 2011- that hasn’t been said so far? 

 I might need crutches instead.
I might need crutches instead 

This piece is being written before the crucial Friday game of MI against RR- which may well decide the plunging fate of the Royals this season. If they lose and Delhi win this game, the Royals will have completed the greatest reverse-comeback in the history of any tournament after winning their first few games convincingly. One cannot help but blame the underperforming Watson for his mere cursed presence in the team. Come what may, for the sake of every cricket analyst in this country- the Daredevils must live upto their initial promise and finish last. That their ex-captain tried his very best to do a Gayle and lift them out of their misery- was evident from the way this team collapsed at the very sight of him walking back to the pavilion for less than 70. 

Irfan Pathan has peaked (by his standards ONLY) a little too late, and has still not compensated for the insane buy-two-get-one-free brothers Pathan package that was sold successfully in the auction earlier this year. KKR obviously proved to be the smarter buyers, with the old North Indian mentality of good looks over quality blatantly showing through with their mind-numbing decision of picking Irfan as their ‘star’ this year. 
Well, all seems to have come to nought now, as they battle to stay afloat- with no lifeboat (Pune are above them now) to rest on and yet another overrated Australian all-rounder (?) to captain them. James Hopes may take this up as a challenge, but there is really not much to gain from this game. Losing will be a far more interesting option- atleast for the action starved nuetrals (who mostly reside South of Delhi)
Facing Pune in their final game sounds like the perfect end to both the teams’ campaigns, with their fates firmly in their own hands. Much like KKR facing MI tomorrow for a respectable place in the playoffs and a Champions League position at stake. Not much, really. 
Player to watch out for: David Warner
Can the pint-sized bulldog pull of a Viru and inspire his deflated outfit to one final victory this season? Maybe not, but he can atleast make sure that Naman Ojha (the keeper who has now been relegated to a position below Uthappa as far as national selection is concerned) looks less ordinary while opening the batting. 
Of course, Morne Morkel and Irfan Pathan will want to finish things on a respectable high- and Venu might want to consider putting in transfer request as soon as he returns from the pitch- with a glovemark as his signature. His relative performance in a mediocre team will not go unnoticed- much like Rahul Sharma for Pune and nobody for Rajasthan.
Pune Warriors India:

Here we are. Last game. Last chance to prove their mettle. It would indeed be unfortunate (and completely confounding) if Pune do manage to trump the Daredevils to last spot- simply because they had one of the stronger teams all along. Their tame loss to KKR not only ruined Punjab’s fairytale comeback, but also effectively ended all the hype around Dada’s comeback. He looked anything but ready in the last few games, and grit is the only thing that may get him through this season. Yes, the Warriors (ha!) have indeed been the party-poopers this year, but for a different anti-social reason altogether. If only Yuvraj Singh decided to take the T20 format a little more seriously. If only Robin Uthappa stopped being his cocky self and actually played for the sake of his team. If only Rahul Sharma could bowl 10 overs a game…

Eye playing tricks.
Eye playing tricks

It will be interesting to see if Yuvi makes any changes in his team for this utterly pointless game. I doubt too many Delhiites and Punekars will agree with me here, though- it is not only a matter of pride, self-esteem, self-respect, pride, pride but also the massive ignominy of being the fourth team in four years to possess the wooden spoon. Credit to them, though- they have made it a lot more interesting than the last few years- where one team performed knees and ankles below the others. That is the least PWI could do, considering the fact they they just ruined a perfectly miraculous playoff race. Killjoys.

Yuvraj seems to incapable of accelerating at the end of every innings- often looking at the toe of his bat for explanations. The man wants to take a break, clearly. As much as we have plugged IPL-2011, there is no denying that it has single-handedly ruined the delightful bask of post worldcup glory. Does anyone even remember the final anymore? When do we celebrate our heroes? When do we actually stop mocking Yuvi for his IPL captaincy and salute him for his real contribution to Indian ODI cricket? 28 years on, and we haven’t even savoured this victory. Shame. 
Player to watch out for: Robin Uthappa
Now that his team has been dismantled and there is no hope of making any sort of late charge, expect this tremendously gifted waste of a player (the real temperament issue in India) to probably bat left-handed (being such a keen believer in the ridiculous reverse sweep) and score runs by the dozen. That dozen may just happen thrice though- with his affinity to the 30s clearly visible throughout this edition. Soon, his inability to make the national team will have him use the same excuse, ‘I am in my 30s. Can’t help it’. 
Doesn’t really matter. But I stick to my first words of this blog (years back, it seems): DD will finish bottom. Pune will finish second to them. And that’s that. Nothing else can be written about these teams. Nothing. Really. 
Goodbye. And No, thanks. 

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