The race for the 2017 IPL playoffs has intensified with six teams fighting it out for the second, third and fourth spots. Delhi Daredevils’ victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday has given the other teams a lifeline in the race for the knockout stages.
One team at the tail-end of that race is Suresh Raina’s Gujarat Lions, who have six points from 10 games. For them, all remaining games are must-wins and a loss could see them exit the race for the playoffs. The task will not be easy as they take on a rejuvenated Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday.
Delhi Daredevils’ ‘home’ comforts
After being bowled out for 67 against Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils mentor Rahul Dravid had said they can only ‘go up from here’. He was proved right after their clinical win against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The six-wicket win snapped a five-match losing streak and lifted Daredevils from the bottom to sixth. Since they will be playing four of their five remaining games at home, they have a chance to build winning momentum as they keep their play-off hopes alive.
The win against Sunrisers Hyderabad was special for Delhi Daredevils as the young brigade responded brilliantly. The likes of Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer and stand-in skipper Karun Nair all chipped in with vital knocks to provide the platform for Corey Anderson to finish the job. After the match, Nair said, “Being a young team, we should play like one. So, we just went out there and played fearlessly.”
This brand of fearless cricket needs a bit of sustaining and Delhi Daredevils will be keen to capitalise on home advantage for the remaining games.
Gujarat Lions love to play away
Gujarat Lions’ batting has lacked consistency. Barring Raina and Brendon McCullum, no one averages over 30. Lack of consistent contributions from other players like Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch have hurt the team. However, one trend has been that Gujarat Lions perform at their best when they are away from home. Out of the three wins for Raina’s team in IPL 2017, two have come away from home.
This stat will offer them some confidence as they bid to keep their playoff hopes alive in the do-or-die encounter against Delhi Daredevils.
Raina’s team have also had the misfortune of losing two back-to-back games by a small margin. In the match against Mumbai Indians, they managed to tie the game but were undone by some brilliant bowling from Jasprit Bumrah in the Super Over. In the game against Rising Pune Supergiant, they took it to the last over after reducing them to 10/3 but failed to stop Ben Stokes from scoring his maiden Twenty20 century as they lost by four wickets. Gujarat Lions will be hoping to avoid any further last-over mishaps if they have to stay in contention for the playoffs.