Daredevils and KP hope for home revival
Four days off is normally a prospect the working man welcomes with glee, but in cricket, especially amid the manic assembly line of matches in the IPL, it threatens the momentum of a team. Delhi Daredevils won their last match, yet a prolonged break has left them in seventh place. The opportunity to climb the rungs arrives in the form of three matches in five days – all at home – the first of which is against Rajasthan Royals.
Daredevils have a history of living and dying by their streaks. In 2009, they knocked off eight of their first 10 opponents to canter into the semi-finals. They enjoyed similar fortunes in 2012, when a string of four victories set up a top-of-the-table finish. Last season, however, was relentlessly bitter as they inaugurated and signed off their campaign with six-match losing streaks.
Pietersen has not yet had a massive innings, but a return to familiar haunts – he strikes at 152.76 and has an IPL century at Feroz Shah Kotla – should provide encouragement. A vestige of rustiness has hampered him, notably early in his innings, but should he break the cobwebs, he poses a threat along with an in-form JP Duminy.
Rajasthan Royals have stuck to a familiar blueprint – an efficient set of batsmen who are certain of their roles and ability, backed up by a motley crew of bowlers who trust their armoury of variation to restrict the opposition. Aside from a shellacking by Maxwell, they have limited oppositions below eight an over comfortably. Against a Daredevils line-up that is yet to find it’s groove that record might not be in much danger. Although Shane Watson and co have shown they have enough muscle in the batting and their think-tank knows just how to utilise it.