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Delhi Daredevils have struggled for form in Indian Premier League 7. R Vishal looks at whether they have found an ideal combination with Murali Vijay and Quinton de Kock opening the batting and at what position their star player, Kevin Pietersen should bat at No 4.
In the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, Delhi Daredevils (DD) grabbed the headlines for snapping up an individual who has an aura to win games single-handedly. He also hit the headlines for being unceremoniously dumped by England, a month before the tournament kicked off.
Kevin Pietersen ended up missing the first three games of the tournament, but there was a certain pattern that that was rolled out, probably unintentionally in terms of their fortunes in the tournament. Going in with a heavily inexperienced unit, DD needed individuals to step up for them to go far in this tournament.
JP Duminy’s heroic act with the bat won them their solitary game, but they have been found wanting in other departments. Setting the tone in the power-play overs is paramount in this format and the opening pair of Mayank Agarwal and the IPL stalwart Murali Vijay proved to be a dud. Being forced to make changes in the last game gave solutions to the DD setup, and it bodes well for the rest of the round robin games, at least batting-wise.
Chasing a stiff target of 185, Vijay and the fledgling run-machine, Quinton de Kock, put on a 99-run opening stand and from the looks of it, finally found salvation to rescue DD from their opening blues. With Vijay being a proven match-winner in this format, he has found a perfect foil in the form of de Kock, who constructs innings by biding his time at the crease.
Another reliable IPL customer, Dinesh Karthik led the team in the first three games, but with Pietersen back in the playing XI, Karthik got pushed down to No 4 after playing at one down when Pietersen was injured. This may have proved to be costly mistake in the match against Hyderabad, as the rusty Englishman took his time at the crease, while Karthik also failed to make an impact after being sent to the crease at two down.
Batting positions have never come in the way of Pietersen’s talent to be on display in his decade-long career, but the current scenario is a different proposition. Having played no competitive cricket for close to four months, Pietersen definitely looked slightly off the paces and found it difficult to impose himself.
The team management should persist with the reliable Karthik playing at No 3 and Pietersen batting at No 4 position. With the aforementioned individuals being bigger than the sum, Pietersen needs to be protected at two down. Even Manoj Tiwary played a blinder in the last game and has earned his value in the XI.
Duminy always manages to raise his game in the IPL, and so far things have gone according to the script for the southpaw. DD need four strong foreign players to make an impact, but it has been a bit of Achilles Heel’ to fill the remaining slot. Jimmy Neesham has been found wanting in all departments and Wayne Parnell continues to leak runs aplenty.
With Nathan Coulter-Nile suffering a foot injury, the squad sheet has become all the more thinner, and batting holds the key for them. In fact, for them to do well in IPL 2014, the batting should play a major role.
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian School of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)
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