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The devil is in the missing names for Delhi

At one point, Delhi Daredevils had seven of its players injured or recovering from injury. The loss of Kevin Pietersen was a bigger blow in two ways, as the England batsman was not just a key player but one capable of making an impact. That force is surely missing in the Daredevils this season. Sahan Bidappa reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 16, 2013 02:58 IST
Sahan Bidappa

If Eric Simons was under pressure from his franchise, the Delhi Daredevils coach did not show it on Monday.

Having lost all their four matches so far, it has been only one direction for the Daredevils — downwards.

On the eve of the tie against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Simons could still afford a smile. “You can’t get any lower than the bottom, can you?” he joked, when asked about the state of his team.

Simons wasn’t making light of the situation. In fact, even before he boarded a flight from his native South Africa, he was aware that the league would pose an enorm-ous challenge to him and his team.

At one point, Simons had seven of his players injured or recovering from injury. The loss of Kevin Pietersen was a bigger blow in two ways, as the England batsman was not just a key player but one capable of making an impact.

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That force is surely missing in the Daredevils this season.

In the dumps
Among other key players, Virender Sehwag is at the lowest ebb of his career, and has played only one match. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene too looks a pale shadow of himself.

Having recently recovered from a finger surgery, he has looked clueless in charge of a depleted team. So the results haven’t shocked Simons.

“If you take three players out of any team - we lost KP, Viru and Morne for the first few games. When you do that, it makes a massive difference,” said Simons.

“It’s not just that they are big run-scorers or wicket-takers. It’s also the nature of their influential personalities,” he added.

Such an effect was seen last year when the Daredevils became the first to reach the play-offs.

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However, reaching that stage will be a huge task for them, unless they finish the league this season like how they began last season.

Tuesday though, on two accounts, will present them a golden opportunity to register their first win.

Firstly, RCB, an indomitable force at home, are still hurting from that last-ball defeat to Chennai Super Kings on Saturday and could be a little shaky.

A fine opportunity
Secondly, the spicy M Chinnaswamy stadium pitch will give the all-pace Daredevils attack enough chances to take on RCB's three main batsmen -- Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

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Morkel's bounce, Umesh Yadav's pace and Irfan Pathan's late swing could be lethal on a surface that offers enough for the seamers.

Daredevils, though, will be hoping their batsmen will offer more against RCB. In his first match, Sehwag couldn't do much but if he can get going with David Warner at the top then Daredevils can end their wretched run.