Desperate Daredevils opens home campaign against Kings

Kings XI Punjab is the team high on confidence ahead of Monday's encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

Delhi Daredevils has had very little to be happy about so far this season.   -  AFP

For the second time in a fortnight, Kings XI Punjab will clash with Delhi Daredevils. Since that campaign-opener, Kings XI has picked up steam to reach the top of the point-table while Daredevils finds itself in the cellar even before its first home game.

In keeping with the contrasting positions in the race for the playoff spots, what is working so far for Kings has become a problem area for Daredevils.

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For instance, Kings XI's openers K. L. Rahul and Chris Gayle have unleashed their fury on the bowlers and laid the foundation for all four victories so far. Rahul appears driven to prove himself in the shortest format of the game by challenging the widely-accepted impression of being only a good Test batsman. The last time these teams clashed, Rahul hit the fastest 50 in IPL.

 

For Daredevils, the openers have contributed little and that is one of the reasons why the team has struggled, more often than not. In contrast, Kings XI has, at least, a half-century opening stand in its victories.

Unlike Kings, Daredevils has not been able to contain the opposition after setting targets in excess of 160 runs. For instance, Daredevils failed to restrict Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore whereas Kings stopped Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad in back to back home games.

On the brighter side for Daredevils, Rishabh Pant is playing to his reputation in this format. Jason Roy did play match-winning role and skipper Gautam Gambhir is stroking the ball well.

However, coach Ricky Ponting must be a worried man. Four defeats in five matches leaves the team with an uphill task of winning at least seven of the remaining nine matches for a place in the playoffs. Roy’s fitness will be of paramount importance for the side growing increasing desperate.

For Kings XI, though skipper R. Ashwin has not been as effective, the pace of Andrew Tye and Mohit Sharma has worked well. Although the injury to Axar Patel has not hurt the team so far but the return of this handy all-rounder is awaited.

Overall, Daredevils has reasons to be worried. Another defeat, this time at home, should push it to the point of desperation. But all is not lost. A victory on Monday can prove to be just the kind of result that could bring it back in the hunt for a place in the playoff. After all, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers have shown, it’s possible to bounce back from poor starts.