Cuttack: After breaking their jinx of never having won at home, Deccan will take on Delhi with renewed energy in a crucial game at the Barabati Stadium on Sunday. While Deccan notched up their second successive win on Friday, Delhi slumped to their second straight loss and are under pressure to arrest the slide.
Delhi's batsmen on Friday failed to post a 200-plus total after Virender Sehwag got them off to an excellent start against Chennai. They fell about 15 runs short and the bowlers then failed to defend the total as Matthew Hayden and stand-in skipper Suresh Raina dominated them right through the game. Deccan, on the other hand, survived a late assualt from Irfan Pathan to bring up their first home win and their first ever win against the Punjab team.
Sunday's game should be a cracker of a contest provided Delhi's top order comes to the party. With Gautam Gambhir out with a hamstring injury, Delhi has had to rely only on Sehwag. David Warner, who played his first game on Friday, looked in good touch but fell trying to go for too many shots early on. He will have to pace his innings better, especially with the wily Chaminda Vaas in superb form for the Chargers.
Delhi's middle order too needs substantial knocks from the bats of AB de Villiers and Tilakaratne Dilshan. The two have disappointed Delhi fans so far and they need to contribute to justify their presence in the lineup. Just good fielding is too high a price to pay for two key places in the team.
The Daredevils will also have to sort out their bowling woes. Barring Dirk Nannes, the other bowlers have been guilty of leaking too many runs. Extras, in fact, have hurt Delhi the most. With Deccan batsman like Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Herschelle Gibbs in top form, Delhi bowlers must bowl to a plan. In fact, Delhi could look to bring back Farveez Maharoof as the experiment of playing Umesh Yadav did not work.
In contrast, Deccan's bowlers are in a fine rhthym. At least twice in the
tournament, Vaas has taken two wickets in a single over to unsettle the opponents, while RP Singh and Jaskaran Singh have given him good support. Deccan spinners Pragyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma have also done well in stifling the rivals' innings.
Surely Delhi will feel the heat and be more under pressure. But there's no better time for the team that made it to two straight semifinals to show their character and bounce back in the tournament.