Keeping the 'mismatch' factor in check by bridging the gap between a fancied team and the underdog is one of the facets of the Twenty20 format. However, the upcoming Indian Premier League clash between Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Deccan Chargers (DC) at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday amounts to just that. A team placed second on the points table with three wins in four matches is set to slug it out with a team that has 100 per cent losing record so far and is placed at the bottom of the standings.
While there is a touch of magic in everything that Delhi do, nothing that Deccan do seems to come off. A total of 196 for 2 in their match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Tuesday should have given DC enough reason to believe that they were on their way to securing first points of the competition, but it was not to be as Rajasthan overhauled the target for their fourth win in six outings to maintain their position at the top of the table. The outcome turned out to be too much for Deccan coach Darren Lehmann, who came down heavily on the bowling and fielding effort of his side.
"We should have taken the catches and should not have allowed the ball to pass between the legs while fielding. It was like an under-14 team on the ground," a visibly disappointed Lehmann said at the media conference after the match. "It was really disappointing to suffer three defeats in a row. In fact, it should have been 2-1 because it was a flip-of-the-coin case against Mumbai and [the] same here [in Jaipur]. We bowled badly with the new ball, but then it was [the] same for both [the] teams."
The biggest concern for Lehmann and skipper Kumar Sangakkara will be the bowling credentials of the side, which was once again exposed in the game against RR. Dale Steyn - who had figures of 3 for 12 against Mumbai Indians, a match DC lost as a result of Rohit Sharma's last-ball six - went wicketless in his 3.4 overs, not to mention the 44 runs that he conceded. With no second line of attack or even containment, the signs seem to be ominous for the 2009 champions.
The story could not be more different for the Virender Sehwag-led Delhi Daredevils, who will be taking on Deccan on the back of successive wins over the tournament heavyweights Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. The emphatic victory over Mumbai at the Wankhede, where the home team was bowled out for 92 would be especially sweet and on current form there could be no second thoughts as to who the favourites would be for Saturday's fixture. Add to that the fact that Delhi would be playing the hosts and the task might well turn out to be a mountain too high to climb for Sangakkara's men and make the possibility of a fourth consecutive loss a distinct reality for DC.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 Naman Ojha (wk), 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 Unmukt Chand, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Shahbaz Nadeem
Deccan Chargers: 1 Kumar Sangakkara (capt/wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Daniel Christian, 4 Jean-Paul Duminy, 5 Bharat Chipli, 6 Tanmay Mishra, 7 Sunny Sohal, 8 Ankit Sharma, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Tekkami Atchuta Rao