India -- Last year this time, the Delhi Daredevils were
cruising, having won four of their first five matches. They went on to
seal their qualification berth without ado. As they face Chennai Super
Kings at the Kotla on Thursday, they are in total disarray.
After stuttering to their fifth consecutive defeat on Tuesday against the Bangalore Royal Challengers, pulling back the tie and then collapsing in the Super Over, the Daredevils camp would be the first to acknowledge they have been the most disorganised.
The last time a team started the season with five defeats, they ended at the bottom. That was Deccan Chargers in 2012. They ended eighth, avoiding the last spot only due to an abandoned tie that fetched them one more point than the Pune Warriors.
With 11 matches to go and yet to score a point, few would bet on Daredevils winning on Thursday, leave alone clinching qualification. Last year, the three teams that fought for the final qualification spot had eight wins each.
Delhi have plenty of issues to sort out. Openers Virender Sehwag and David Warner have not provided the explosive starts they are expected to.
And skipper Mahela Jayawardene has neither anchored the batting nor got the players to pull in one direction.
In Bangalore, Daredevils were without the services of Sehwag for the Super Over. Needing 16 to win, surprisingly Aussie Ben Rohrer walked out with Warner. After Warner was out first ball and Delhi fell short, Jayawardene said Sehwag could not take the field for RCB's last three overs and hence was ineligible to bat in the Super Over.
CSK too are yet to find their momentum after winning only two of their four matches. They owed one win to RP Singh's no-ball, and the other was against lightweights Kings XI Punjab.
Dhoni will have to take a hard look at whether to bring back Mike Hussey to open with Murali Vijay and keep out Dirk Nannes, who went for plenty against Pune.
"We haven't played that well at home, which is our fortress but that's where we have lost our games," said bowling coach Andy Bichel.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.