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Battle for the wooden spoon

For a team many picked as an early-runner for the first IPL title, Hyderabad sure have flattered to deceive. Arjun Sen reports.
Hindustan Times | By Arjun Sen, Hyderabad
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2008 06:00 PM IST

The more you see, the more you wonder how a team this strong could be rooted to the bottom of a league table, wonder where it all fell apart, wonder why a string of wins could never be managed, and perhaps, most pertinently, wonder if this team was any good enough in the first place.

For a team many picked as an early-runner for the first IPL title, Hyderabad sure have flattered to deceive. Nothing has gone according to plan for the outfit, and two wins is all they have been able to achieve in their twelve matches so far.

More than the defeats, however, what hurt the team and their fans is the manner in which they conceded the points. Hyderabad have rarely, if ever, looked like a team that looked unbeatable, the batting has been largely dependent on either Adam Gilchrist or Rohit Sharma, while the less said about the bowling, the better.

So, it was little surprise when, despite scoring a few very competitive totals including a 200 against Jaipur, Hyderabad were tinable to defend. The bowling has been catastrophic at times, with a match very much in the grasp slipping after one or two ordinary overs. And it was a similar case on Friday, too.

Having posted a fighting 175 against Mohali, Gilchrist and his boys were looking well plved for an assault on that elusive third win. That was till the pace duo of RP Singh and D Yijaykumar started their spells, that is. Obviously not having learnt from the previous matches, the two kept spraying the ball all over, never settling down into a line or length and proving to be, yet again easy pickings for the Mohali batsmen.

The game ceased to be a contest in no time Sitting not-so-pretty at the foot of the table Hyderabad now face their last chance to avoid the embarrassment of a last-place finish when they come face-to-face with a side that has had an equally nightmarish IPL campaign. Bangalore were the glam boys, owned by the excessive Vijay Mallya. A lot had been expected from this team.

But sadly, it wasn't to be. They have managed just one more win than Hyderabad and have looked as out of sync as their opponents on the morrow. Beset with problems, both on and off the field, Bangalore have been up against it for a while now.

And yet, despite the very public pressure put on the players by the owners, Rahul Dravid's team managed to pull off a remarkable win against Chennai. They would desperately be looking to repeat those heroics against Hyderabad to end the season on a high and make sure they don't finish last in the table. The momentum is with the visitors, and they look like seizing the moment. As for Hyderabad, the Law of Averages has to catch up sometime, right?

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