New Delhi: Six matches. Six losses. That Delhi Daredevils were going to be hurt by injuries to Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder and Varun Aaron was always know. Pietersen had stamped his presence during the 2012 season, Ryder is a proven Twenty20 match-winner and Aaron a genuinely quick fast bowler which most teams would fancy having. But how many would have envisioned Delhi losing six matches in a row?
Delhi's wretched run of form has become a talking point in IPL 6, with on-air pundits openly wondering what has gone wrong. Staring at a premature exit from IPL 6, last season's most consistent team are running out of time. Each team plays 16 matches in the group stages, which means Delhi are nearing the point where each match is a must-win for them to make the play-offs.
On paper, Delhi have a good team. A top order comprising Virender Sehwag, David Warner and Mahela Jayawardene should win you a lot of matches. In Morne Morkel they have a superb fast bowler who carried the attack excellently in 2012. Irfan Pathan is a valuable allrounder and then there is Umesh Yadav and Johan Botha. In the squad but yet to get a game is South African allrounder Roelof van der Merwe. Their Indian domestic contingent includes Manprit Juneja, the talented Gujarat batsman with a Twenty20 career batting average of 34.76, Kedar Jadhav and the experienced Naman Ojha.
But the results have been disappointing. Warner averages 29.16, with two fifties; Jayawardene averages 22.33, with one half-century; Sehwag's average is a lowly 18. With the ball, Morkel has taken five wickets at 24 each but his economy rate of nine is higher than 7.19 from last season and his ability to use his height has not been successful. Irfan's batting average is 19, his bowling average 57. Yadav has been Delhi's best bowler taking seven wickets in six matches. Ojha, who was crucial last season, was dropped after failing in two matches.
The decision to trade Ross Taylor for Ashish Nehra from Pune Warriors was probably taken with an eye on Aaron's uncertain progress from injury, but the former India left-armer has just six wickets in four games at an economy rate of nine. The team's new foreign recruits Jeevan Mendis and Botha - who were bought in February's player auction along with Ryder - have not lived up to expectations either.
What has hurt Delhi most is the lack of opening partnerships. Out of six matches, thrice Delhi have lost a wicket without a run on the board. With Warner being inconsistent and Sehwag struggling to make an impression, the middle order has just not been able to put up enough runs after the openers have regularly failed to provide starts. The best opening stand that Delhi have come up with is 43 in 5.4 overs, their average of 15.5 being the second worst in IPL 6.
As a unit, Delhi have failed to click. They have just not been able to put together a winning XI this year. With 11 matches to go, something has to change dramatically.
Have your say: what do you attribute Delhi Daredevils' slump to?