Kings XI v Daredevils: Perpetual underachievers to battle for survival

Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils are well aware that a sixth defeat will firm up their place among the also-rans in this season’s Indian Premier League.

Kings XI Punjab would hope Hashim Amla plays on Sunday.   -  AFP

Clinging on to slim hopes of qualifying for the playoffs, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils face-off here on Sunday. The teams are well aware that a sixth defeat will firm up their place among the also-rans in this season’s Indian Premier League.

Placed sixth and eighth, Kings XI (six points from eight matches) and Daredevils (four from seven) have only reinforced the label of being perpetual underachievers since the inception of the competition. If one looks at the composition of the teams, Kings XI’s batting has the potential to win matches while Daredevils has the bowling resources to restrict any opposition. As things stand, the teams have performed below par in areas considered to be their strength.

Kings XI will be hoping Hashim Amla, the team’s man in form, returns to the team after missing Friday’s encounter due to indisposition. Though Amla’s replacement Martin Guptill did give a glimpse of his abilities, he did not last long.

Unless the Kings XI batsmen fire, the chances of winning at least five out of the remaining six matches looks improbable. Overall, the team scored runs at a brisk pace, and their bowling has looked inadequate. The biggest disappointment has been Ishant Sharma. Unsold at the auction, Ishant has not justified his late induction. His economy-rate continues to be alarming while he has not been regularly picking up wickets.

The pace-centric attack – with Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma – has not been able to keep the opposition consistently in check. The left-arm spin of Axar Patel has played its part on occasions but overall, the bowling resources fail to intimidate the opposition.

Under-fire batsmen

In contrast, Daredevils has the bowling options but pays heavily for its lack of maturity in the batting line-up. Even against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday, Daredevils lost its way after raising hopes of reaching close to the 200-run mark although Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer contributed more than 100 runs between them.

Following four successive defeats, Daredevils needs to win at least five out its remaining seven matches to grab a playoff berth. Reinforced by the inclusion of all-rounder Marlon Samuels, Daredevils will have to reproduce the batting form that led to victories against Pune (205 for 4) and Kings XI (188 for 6).

It remains to be seen whether Sunday turns out to be a day for the Kings XI batsmen or Daredevils’ bowlers.