In quest of a morale-boosting win

Where is his winning formula? Coach Gary Kirsten was expected to usher in a new era for Delhi Daredevils this season, but things didn't work out as planned. The South African, who was the coach of the Indian one-day team that won the World Cup in 2011, is in discussion with the Daredevils batsman Murali Vijay at the Kotla in New Delhi.-S. SUBRAMANIUM Where is his winning formula? Coach Gary Kirsten was expected to usher in a new era for Delhi Daredevils this season, but things didn't work out as planned. The South African, who was the coach of the Indian one-day team that won the World Cup in 2011, is in discussion with the Daredevils batsman Murali Vijay at the Kotla in New Delhi.

In spite of having a new team and a coach of the calibre of Gary Kirsten to guide the players, Delhi Daredevils has performed well below expectations. The process of rebuilding the team and forging a winning combination will however continue under the South African.

‘Rain, rain go away’, the Delhi Daredevils camp must have prayed in unison when frequent rain interruptions played spoilsport during the team’s Indian Premier League clash with Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Kotla on May 10.

Players and umpires went on to the field and came off several times, while the ground staff, armed with covers and super-soppers, worked overtime as intermittent rains lashed the Kotla. DD, after posting a modest 143, was in a disadvantageous position as SRH’s victory target was revised more than once before finally being pegged at 43 in five overs in farcical circumstances.

The rains ensured that the sparse crowd at the Kotla went home drenched and frustrated with the host’s string of dismal performances. This was DD’s fourth successive defeat and seventh in nine outings, which virtually ruled the team out of the race for a berth in the playoffs.

It was also a very disappointing show for a highly successful coach like Gary Kirsten.

DD had started the season with a clean slate, picking up new players and not retaining any of its players of the previous year. It also appointed someone of the calibre of Kirsten to guide the team.

The process, it is believed, will continue, as Kirsten has been entrusted with the task of building a winning combination in the next few years.

For the remainder of IPL-7, DD will play with a free mind and look to record some morale-boosting wins.

The Gambhir gambit

Gautam Gambhir made a positive statement with yet another aggressive knock to lead Kolkata Knight Riders to an emphatic eight-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils at the Kotla (May 7). The KKR skipper had been under the scanner following his disastrous start to the tournament with scores of 0, 0, 0, 1 in the first four matches. He needed to play some impressive knocks, and consistently too.

Gambhir’s half-century against Rajasthan Royals at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, had gone in vain following KKR’s dramatic batting collapse the other day. After suffering four back-to-back defeats, KKR badly needed a win to get back its confidence and stay in the hunt for a place in the final stage of the competition.

Back on track... Kolkata Knight Rider's Gautam Gambhir has put his run of poor scores behind him, thanks to his efforts in the nets.-PTI

The KKR bowlers, led by Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh, restricted DD for 160 for five. Then, the openers, Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, put on 106 runs in 12 overs to lay the foundation for their team’s chase. If Uthappa (47 off 34 balls) exhibited correct batsmanship while gathering runs at a good pace, Gambhir (69 off 56 balls) displayed his flamboyance to demoralise the DD bowlers. This was Gambhir’s third significant contribution and it would definitely boost his chances of making a comeback to the Indian team.

“He (Gambhir) was always serious about his batting after failing in the first three-four games. He was the first to come to the nets and the last one to go,” said Shakib.

Thanking Robin

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming admitted that Dwayne Smith used to be a “headache” for the side in the previous years and the team got rid of the problem by picking the West Indian at the auction.

The move turned out to be a masterstroke for CSK as the explosive Smith played several noteworthy knocks for the team. His performance against Delhi Daredevils at the Kotla (May 5) was another example of Smith’s utility.

It was an awesome exhibition of Smith’s brutal assault on the DD bowlers, who erred in line and length. The West Indian came up with some stunning hits, a majority of them in the region of square leg and long on. He hammered eight massive sixes and four fours in his 51-ball 79 to help CSK overhaul a stiff target (179 runs) without much trouble.

Smith was involved in two vital stands — 82 runs for the first wicket with Brendon McCullum (32) and 86 runs for the second with Suresh Raina (47 not out) — as he paved the way for CSK’s sixth straight victory in seven matches.

Smith later acknowledged the contribution of former India cricketer Robin Singh in his development. “I did a lot of work with Robin Singh and I respect him a lot. Unfortunately, he is not with us in Chennai but he has done a lot of work with me and I thank him a lot for what he has done, especially in the sub-continent,” said Smith.

KXIP sinks CSK in a deluge of runs

The transformation of Kings XI Punjab into a winning unit is the most remarkable happening in the seventh edition of the IPL. The induction of Australia’s Glenn Maxwell and the retainment of the talented South African David Miller have paid rich dividends.

KXIP did exceedingly well in the first phase of the tournament in the UAE, sweeping to victory in all the five games. The team’s first match in India ended in defeat to Mumbai Indians, much to the consternation of the team management.

At this juncture came KXIP’s re-match with league topper Chennai Super Kings at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on May 7. CSK, thirsting for revenge after having lost to KXIP in the first leg, caught the imagination of the followers of the tournament.

So, it was a perfect setting for the ‘big game’ — a pitch full of runs, a packed stadium and two teams ready to go at each other. Put in to bat, KXIP produced an awesome batting display never before seen this season. Maxwell and Miller, now famously known as Max-Mill, collaborated to plunder runs from one of the most balanced and potent teams in the tournament.

The way the duo batted, it looked like the pair was toying with an amateur side.

Maxwell dominated the third-wicket stand of 135 — an IPL record. Miller got out first for 47 (32 balls, five fours and two sixes). Eight balls later, Maxwell left for a brilliant 90 (38 balls, six fours and eight sixes). Captain George Bailey rubbed salt into CSK’s wounds with a 13-ball unbeaten 40 (six fours and two sixes) to help KXIP finish at 231 for four — the highest total recorded this season.

CSK’s chase ran into problems when Dwayne Smith left early. Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina tried their best but the mammoth target was too much to overcome. Faf du Plessis scored 52, but CSK couldn’t prevent KXIP from winning comprehensively.