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Sanga checks in for fiery baptism

One almost feels sorry for the Kings XI as they get ready to enter the ring against the Delhi Daredevils. Their situation is like that of a defenceless lamb thrown to hungry and ferocious lions, reports Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Mar 13, 2010 01:18 IST
Subhash Rajta

One almost feels sorry for the Kings XI as they get ready to enter the ring against the Delhi Daredevils. Their situation is like that of a defenceless lamb thrown to hungry and ferocious lions.

The analogy, on the face of it, might appear a bit exaggerated. But one glance at the severely depleted side - on account of injuries and late arrival of several key players - that will be up against the nearly full-strength Daredevils is telling.

Of all the problems they are faced with, the one that's going to hurt the Kings XI most is the unavailability of Brett Lee, who's still recuperating from elbow surgery. Jerome Taylor, the West Indian fast bowler, will continue to remain unavailable for the second season on the trot. The absence of these speedsters means Kings XI will lack the essential pace and aggression upfront. Worse still, the second line, comprising Irfan Pathan and S Sreesnath, is far from fighting fit, battling with form and fitness for quite some time now.

Against this backdrop, a Kings XI fan would perspire with anxiety at watching swashbucklers like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, David Warner, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Kartik troop out from the dugout to take strike. Bowlers will shudder to think what this scary batting line-up would look like when AB de Villiers checks in!

One man who can meet fire with fire for Kings XI is still pacing around in the zone of uncertainty. Yuvraj Singh, the deposed skipper, is still not sure if his injured wrist has healed enough to unleash those cracking pulls and heaves over midwicket. The team is desperately hoping for him to take the field, but he isn't a certainty.

Add absentees like Shaun Marsh, Simon Katich and James Hopes, and it becomes clear that Kumar Sangakkara, the new skipper, will have a baptism of fire. He has pinned his hopes on the domestic players, but that's more out of compulsion than choice. It will be largely up to him and his friend and compatriot Mahela Jayawardene, to shoulder the burden of giving the team a semblance of a chance on Saturday night.

That, however, will not be easy against a Daredevils attack spearheaded by left-armers Dirk Nannes and Ashish Nehra. The duo formed the most potent new ball pair last season and troubled almost everyone.

All said and done, Kings XI have their task cut out.