Bulls run into Delhi Daredevils
They have come agonisingly close twice in three games only to falter at the finish, and Deccan Chargers coach Darren Lehmann will have read out the Riot Act going into their next game here on Thursday.
The only problem is that the Bulls are up against the hottest team of IPL-V — on performance — in the Delhi Daredevils, who will almost certainly be unforgiving opponents, particularly on their home turf, the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Shock and awe have been the Daredevils’ motto so far in the league with the opposition bundled out for paltry scores in three of their four matches — the loss in Bengaluru being the only exception. To counter this, the Bulls will have to be at the top of their game.
Adding to this potent attack is the fact that Delhi own the most devastating batting line-up in the league. There were a few holes in the middle order but the arrivals of Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and most recently Ross Taylor, have filled those in very nicely.
In the plus column for the visitors, it helps that of their three losses, two have been by hair-thin margins and certainly Chargers’ skipper Kumar Sangakkara will be looking to take the good out of those results into this game.
What will be worrying Sangakkara and coach Lehmann is the team’s inability to squeeze the opposition. For that the attack has to fire in unison, but the Bulls have seen their bowlers come to the party only in fits and spurts.
If at Vizag Dale Steyn was a handful, he was practically by himself. At Jaipur on Tuesday, it was Amit Mishra’s turn, the others simply failing to match his intensity. Once this area of ironed out, the Bulls could be a much more cohesive — and dangerous — unit.
They have the manpower — and now having got the balance right with the bat after the induction of J.P. Duminy in place of the misfiring Cameron White — they look more of a force with the willow as well. All in all, the Chargers will be tested to the full by a confident and balanced Delhi unit for whom skipper Virender Sehwag finally looks to have hit the sort of form that makes him such a destroyer of bowling attacks.
Yet, the charm of T20 cricket remains its unpredictability, and on a Kotla track that has not really thrown up big scores, literally anything is possible. Something Messrs Lehmann and Sangakkara can take heart from.
Key player : Deccan chargers Shikhar Dhawan
For Delhi boy Shikhar Dhawan, it is an opportunity to prove a point and what better stage than the Kotla — his home ground. The muscular left-hander has run into good form.
Key player : Delhi Daredevils Umesh Yadav
Delhi’s version of Harold Larwood — via Nagpur — has been hitting the 140-kmph mark on a regular basis. Yadav lends the Daredevils’ attack some sharp teeth.