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Looking for survival

With a semifinal spot on the verge of slipping away, the Delhi team needs to fight like never before, reports A Vasu.

cricket Updated: May 15, 2008 02:08 IST
Anand Vasu

"We are fighters, we never give up," is the chorus of the Delhi IPL team's theme song. It was quite comprehensively and embarrassingly drowned out by Kolkata's

Korbo, lorbo, jeetbo re

on a sweaty Tuesday night at the Eden Gardens when Shoaib Akhtar led a rout that should never have been once Delhi kept Kolkata down to 133.

Now, with a semifinal spot on the verge of slipping away, the Delhi team needs to fight like never before in the tournament.

Ironically they are also at their most vulnerable when they come up against an opponent that has been a soft target for all teams save the one from Bangalore. The Hyderabad team, despite boasting a line-up of batsmen that would make it to most fans's fantasy Twenty20 hitters has failed to come off. If Delhi's semifinal chances are fading, Hyderabad's have all but gone up in smoke. This means that they're playing largely for pride and this makes them doubly dangerous. Adam Gilchrist has already shown what he can do, while Shahid Afridi, who you would think was born to destroy in this format, has consistently failed and is due a big score.

With Delhi anxious to collect two points that will keep them in the hunt, Hyderabad could just pull off a shock defeat for they have nothing to lose. Delhi have been constantly dogged by close finishes that ended badly and have struggled to get the right combination on the park.

Glenn McGrath has been as constant in the attack as he has been effective. Mohammad Asif missed out in the last two matches because Farveez Maharoof offers so much more with the bat and with Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers not doing too much in the middle-order, Delhi needed this insurance. But, just as the Shoaib Malik experiment did not come off, it might be time for Delhi to shelve their tinkering and return to more tried-and-tested if less spectacular players.

For one, in the low chase they missed the cool head of a Rajat Bhatia. How they continue to keep him out of the mix is baffling, but then again when results don't go your way the captain is the first one made to look a bit foolish. But a return for Asif - with Dilshan missing out - and likewise for Bhatia, for whom place must be made, can give the team a much more settled look.

Desperate times often call for desperate measures but in Delhi's case they might be best served by keeping things simple.

After all, this is what brought them success, overwhelming wins in the start of the tournament, and made them one of the front-runners for a semifinal spot.