Time to arrest the slide

New Delhi, April 12 -- Busy helping his team, the Titans, reach the final of the Ram Slam back home in South Africa, Morne Morkel was unable to join the Daredevils until a few days ago.

Jetlagged perhaps, the pacer can be forgiven for being whacked around Wankhede by the Mumbai Indians in his first game of the Indian T20 season.

But given that he has been coming to this country ever since the inception of this league, and has been a part of two set-ups, one would expect Morkel not to mix up teams.

Slow start

Given the poor start to their season, the Daredevils are in obvious need of some inspiration. But Morkel, for one, isn't looking for it in the right place. "We saw last year with the Chennai Super Kings," said Morkel. "They lost their first five in a row, but bounced back to reach the final."

A team did lose their first five in a row last season, but it wasn't the Super Kings. The dubious distinction belonged to the previous incarnation of the Daredevils' upcoming opponents, Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Unwanted record

Friday's hosts are still two away from the erstwhile Deccan Chargers' streak from last year, and one away from Mumbai's four in the inaugural edition. But with a hattrick of losses to kick off their campaign, the Daredevils already have history against them.

Over the past five years, there have been five previous occasions in India's T20 league on which a team has lost three or more matches on the trot right at the start of the season. None of those losing streaks could be turned around in time for the knockouts.

Return of Viru?

Of course, making it to the playoffs is not impossible, not at least on paper, especially if Virender Sehwag returns and starts firing immediately.

On Thursday, the explosive Delhi opener enjoyed a lengthy session at the nets.

On his way back after facing Irfan Pathan, Andre Russell, Johan Botha and a slew of net bowlers, Sehwag had another lengthy session, this one with India's original explosive opener, Kris Srikkanth, here in the capacity of the Sunrisers' brand ambassador.

Whether or not Sehwag will play on Friday, however, wasn't something his side committed to. "Viru's improving every day, but it's important for him rest and recover," said Morkel, adding that a decision will only be taken before the match.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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