Nagpur: The nomadic Deccan Chargers take on Rajasthan Royals at yet another new homeground and hope that the Vidharbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur turns out to be a lucky venue for them. Chargers, truly, have been done in since they were displaced from Hyderabad and have not been able to settle down in the tournament.
Nagpur is where they will play their final three home games and a win in each will keep them alive in the semi-final race. But all will be lost if they crash to a defeat against the Royals on Monday. And the only way to avoid that is if Adam Gilchrist plays the knock of his life to re-infuse the momentum into the team. Everyone knows when Gilly's on his way, there's little the opposition can do but watch. Even if the opposition is led by a certain Shane Warne.
Deccan's performances have deteriorated with every passing game and it has more to do with the failure of stringing partnerships than with the individual performances of the players. Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds and Herschelle Gibbs have all been in good nick, but they have been lacking in pacing their innings as a team.
The Deccan Chargers have been done in since they were displaced from Hyderabad.
Their bowling too has hurt them. Chaminda Vaas has dropped in pace after making an impressive start in the tournament and none of the other bowlers have been able to step up and carry the mantle of being a lead bowler for the team. Even Kemar Roach and Ryan Harris have failed to inspire the side and it is imperative that they sort out their bowling before they take on an aggressive Rajasthan batting.
Even though the Royals lost by 23 runs to Chennai on Saturday, it was a fight worth watching. Naman Ojha and Shane Watson belted the Chennai bowlers at will and if the two get together on Monday, Deccan would be staring down the barrell.
It was Rajasthan's whirlwind approach in the game against Chennai that should give them the edge and keep their morale high despite the loss. They are the only team in the tournament to have lost two high scoring games and in both instances their fight kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
If they can play with that spirit, Rajasthan still have the wherewithal to get to the last four. For Deccan though, the ascent has started to look steeper. Monday's game will test not just the tenacity of the two sides, but innovativeness and inspiring leadership. Warne's side got the better of Gilchrist's boys in the last game at Ahmedabad. Gilchrist will hope homeground blues don't come back to haunt them this time around.