The hole that the Delhi Daredevils have dug for themselves with three straight losses can turn out to be too deep to climb out of unless Gautam Gambhir and his boys come up with something special at the Chepauk on Thursday.
They face a buoyant Chennai Super Kings who saw off the Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday to record their fourth straight win at home. Off-spinner R. Ashwin was the star of the night, taking three for 16 with the new ball. “The pitch here has suited our bowlers more than the opposition’s,” Ashwin said. “If we can get another win against Delhi next up then we might be through.”
Both teams have 12 points from 12 matches. But the belief in the Super Kings’ rank that a win on Thursday will almost guarantee them a place in the semi-finals stems from their healthy net run-rate (0.348), which is far superior to the Daredevils’ (0.024).
The Super Kings also have a slightly easier fixture in the last round. They meet the Kings XI Punjab away and Kumar Sangakkara and his boys, despite their late resurgence, have been the worst team in the competition so far.
The Daredevils face a tricky opponent on a trickier wicket in their last match — they play the Deccan Chargers, another team in contention for a semifinal berth, at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Gambhir would love to get a win under his belt before he goes back to Kotla.
On paper, the Daredevils have an explosive batting line-up, full of India and foreign internationals. However, things have not come together for them in the last three matches. The pace attack has looked weak with Dirk Nannes and Wayne Parnell injured and Ashish Nehra just returning from injury.
The spin department looks strong in the presence of Amit Mishra and Daniel Vettori, who was benched in the previous match against the Mumbai Indians. Vettori should be back at Chepauk, where the wickets have either been absolute belters or conducive to spin. If the Super Kings have a worry, it is the form of their foreign stars, Hayden and Muralitharan, who have not turned in big performances as frequently as they would have liked.