Captain Virender Sehwag has called for dramatic improvement from Delhi’s batting and bowling ranks ahead of Thursday’s Indian Premier League clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
With just two wins from six matches this year, the Daredevils currently languish in the bottom half of the 10-team standings and will surely fall to stone last if they lose to Kolkata at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Tuesday’s three-wicket defeat to Bangalore typified their inconsistency with the bat throughout the 2011 tournament, with rank failures from David Warner and Matthew Wade and insignificant contributions from Sehwag and Venugopal Rao resigning Delhi to a substandard total of 160 for six.
The bowlers, with Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda the lead culprits, then coughed up plenty of expense as the Royal Challengers successfully chased their target down with three balls to spare.
“We’ve been playing well and also gelling well as a team. It’s just that we have not been able to take that final step to victory because of minor slip-ups like a couple of bad overs or a rash shot. We need to improve in these areas if we want to win consistently,” said Sehwag.
“Our top-order has failed time and again and hence put pressure on the middle-order batsmen. When you lose three or four quick wickets at the top, it gets tough for the coming batsmen because they not only have to score big but also preserve their wickets.
“We have good bowlers but no matter how good a bowling attack you have, you will be hit if you don’t pitch the ball in the right areas. What’s happening with us is that we’re allowing the opposition batsmen to get off to good starts.
“Our bowlers need to make sure that they make the batsmen work hard for their runs and don’t offer bad balls to hit easily.”
All-rounder Irfan, who fetched the hefty price of 1.9 US dollars at January’s auction, has failed to justify his fat signing fee in the IPL thus far, with Sehwag left to defend Delhi’s choice to recruit the Kings XI Punjab sign-off.
“He’s getting better match by match and hopefully he’ll improve with both the bat and the ball in the coming match against Kolkata,” he added.
With a mere four points from a possible 12, Delhi are hardly sitting pretty across a competitive log. However, Sehwag insisted that one win over the Knight Riders and another over Kochi come Monday would have his side in the running for a semi-final berth again.
“The pressure has mounted on the side as we now have to win a couple of games to get back in contention. And for that to happen, we need to lift our game significantly,” he concluded.
Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir, whose team head into Thursday’s encounter against Delhi on the back of losses to Kochi and Bangalore, echoed Sehwag’s sentiments about the open nature of this year’s IPL.
“The tournament is still wide open. We’re very motivated and very much in contention. Winning one or two games will swing the momentum in our favour,” said Gambhir. Cricket365