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Looking for capital gains

In what can be billed as a clash between teams that have struggled to find early momentum in the Indian Premier League's (IPL) fourth season, hosts Delhi Daredevils will feel more upbeat than former champions Deccan Chargers on Tuesday. N Ananthanarayanan reports. Matchbox

cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2011 02:03 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

In what can be billed as a clash between teams that have struggled to find early momentum in the Indian Premier League's (IPL) fourth season, hosts Delhi Daredevils will feel more upbeat than former champions Deccan Chargers on Tuesday.

After two defeats in their opening games turned the focus on the struggles of a reshuffled team, Daredevils have turned things around with an emphatic win against Pune Warriors on Sunday.

Onus on Sehwag
More importantly, skipper Virender Sehwag discovered his Twenty20 touch in Navi Mumbai and his team would again be looking up to him to provide that vital batting leadership as well. However, it is extremely important to stay rooted to the present, as the team's batting mainstay this season, K Venugopal Rao, insists.

The middle-order batsman has been a picture of consistency this time. Venugopal Rao contributed 26, and 60 off 40 balls against Rajasthan Royals, shining in the two defeats.

Rao again played a key role against Pune Warriors after Sehwag and David Warner laid the foundation, lashing 31 off 20 to make sure Daredevils chased down the tough target of 188.

In-form Venugopal
A player who has had his ups and downs, having played 16 ODIs in 2005-06 before being discarded, Venugopal is clear about his game.

"It is important that you work hard; in the IPL, you are supposed to support the settled batsman, and then help the incoming batsman as well," the 29-year-old all-rounder told HT on Monday.

Rao would be eager to carry his current form against his former team, having played for the Chargers before he was purchased by the Delhi team for $700,000 in the player auctions. So far, he has handsomely repaid the faith the Daredevils owners showed when they paid seven times the base price for him.

The solid middle-order batsman somehow managed just one fifty in 11 ODI innings during a phase when India were on the lookout for fresh talent.

Although not an all-out attacking player, he has adapted to the needs of the Twenty20 game quite well.

Remain focussed
Venugopal Rao said support from skipper Sehwag "on and off the field" as well as the team management has helped. But the important thing for him was not to lose focus. "I know my strengths and weaknesses and I have been working hard. That is paying off.

"People will now ask things like playing again for the country. It is easy to talk about those things. But the crucial thing is the next game. And I'm looking forward to it. These days we play a lot of cricket, Ranji, Duleep, IPL and other matches. If you start thinking too far ahead, you can't do well."

After three losses in four games - the latest at home against a resurgent Kings XI Punjab -Sangakkara's team will have to dig deep.

Having released their home player Rao, Chargers can still rely on 'home' advantage - Ishant Sharma and batsman Shikhar Dhawan are Delhi players while Amit Mishra, like Dhawan, played for Daredevils last season.