Bruised and battered after a string of defeats, Delhi Daredevils find themselves in an 'oh-so-familiar' situation as they seek home comfort against a Chris Gayle-inspired Kings XI Punjab in the match 22 of Indian Premier League at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Without an iota of doubt, the Daredevils have been the least impressive of all teams in the past few seasons of the cash-rich extravaganza, only managing to finish at the bottom half of the pecking order.
In the last two seasons, the Daredevils ended their campaign at the sixth position, were a place down in 2015 and finished last the year before, in 2014. The story has been similar in the ongoing edition as they struggle with fours losses from five outings to occupy the last place.
IPL 2018: De Villiers' unbeaten 90 powers Royal Challengers Bangalore to 6-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils
They were done in by the versatile AB de Villiers' smashing knock last night and up next at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Daredevils will be up against the destructive Gayle, who has made a statement with two fifties and century, scoring those runs in his trademark style.
Thanks to Gayle's belligerence, Kings XI Punjab are firmly placed at the top of the order with four victories and a solitary defeat. Given the form they have shown in the previous encounters, Kings XI Punjab will fancy their chances to continue the momentum against an embattled Delhi Daredevils outfit.
Royal Challengers Bangalore chasing down a target of 175 with two overs to spare, is more of a reflection of Daredevils' poor team selection rather than helplessness.
To start with, they lost to Kings XI Punjab in their away game, were then subjected to a humiliating defeat by Kolkata Knight Riders, emerged second best against Rajasthan Royals under the Duckworth/Lewis method and faced another reverse at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Delhi Daredevils' only victory has come against Mumbai Indians when English opener Jason Roy and the dynamic Rishabh Pant fired. In fact, wicketkeeper Pant has been their best batsman this season with 223 runs from five games.
Returning to his home city franchise, skipper Gautam Gambhir would look to get his scoring touch back, after a hugely successful stint at Kolkata Knight Riders. So is the case with the big-hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell, while Shreyas Iyer, who scored a brisk half-century against RCB, would look to continue in the same vein.
The logic of playing Vijay Shankar is still not clear as the team management is not able to send him up the order for lack of power in his shots. Even more baffling is the fact that he has not been called upon to bowl in four of the five games.
The task is certainly going to be difficult when up against Gayle and Co, with the Jamaican forming a deadly opening combination with K L Rahul.
India discard Yuvraj Singh would hope to get some runs under his bat, too, even as KL Rahul is asserting himself as a potent opener in shortest format with two brisk half centuries. And how can one discount the presence of Aaron Finch, who has the ability to destroy any bowling attack on his day.
All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, along with Mohit Sharma, lends depth to the line-up, while the likes of Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye and Mujeeb ur Rahman shoulder the bowling responsibility.
Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (C), Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Amit Mishra, Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammad Shami, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Daniel Christian, Jason Roy, Naman Ojha, Prithvi Shaw, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Avesh Khan, Manjot Kalra,
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), AJ Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Chris Gayle.