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Battle of the wounded

The Ishant-hurricane that hit Mahela Jayawardene and Co. has left some severe bruises. And the body language of the Kochi Tuskers team is testimony to that. But what seems to have hurt them most is the way their own backyard has turned into a graveyard.

cricket Updated: Apr 30, 2011 00:17 IST
Debjeet Kundu

The Ishant-hurricane that hit Mahela Jayawardene and Co. has left some severe bruises. And the body language of the Kochi Tuskers team is testimony to that. But what seems to have hurt them most is the way their own backyard has turned into a graveyard.

So, when the team takes on the Delhi Daredevils here on Saturday, the only thing that will inspire them is their proven record of making mighty turnarounds.

WHO’S HURT MORE?
But if the Tuskers are a hurt unit, the Daredevils are equally bruised, or more. And that makes this contest even more riveting.

“When they are down, the Daredevils can be dangerous opponents,” pointed out Jayawardene. On the Daredevils’ part, the tournament is fast slipping away.

A do-or-die situation already, Virender Sehwag will be actually taking the field for a survival battle. And the thing that will be bothering him most is, ironically, the team’s much-feted batting line-up. Apart from David Warner and Venugopal Rao, hardly anyone seems to be in the mood to join the run party.

The Tuskers, too, have their own issues to sort out. Batsman Michael Klinger has been waiting in the wings, but a choice over either Brendon McCullum or Brad Hodge looks difficult.

If the team decides to go without spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Klinger will have a go against the Daredevils. In that case, the team will have to go in with three pacers.

PITCHED BATTLE
On Friday, all eyes were on the pitch that had turned into the home team’s graveyard against the Deccan Chargers.

While the team chose to practice on a pitch with a bit of grass, the one to be played on Saturday was being worked upon by the curators. The green tinge from the last match was surely missing and it looked much flatter after some considerable rolling.

And though Jayawardene skirted making any comments on the last strip that was provided, he looked visibly concerned.
“We don’t make the pitches, so we have to play on whatever we are given. But, at least at home, we should know what we're going to play on,” said the anguished skipper, who later spent some time talking to the groundsmen.
Still, the team isn’t too sure about how the pitch will behave. “We’ll have a look once again tomorrow (Saturday) and decide the team combination,” he added.