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United, they stand

The way this Delhi team’s luck has progressed, from indifferent to plain terrible, one wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the last away-game results in a major upset. Anand Vasu reports.

cricket Updated: May 19, 2008, 02:14 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times

The way this Delhi team’s luck has progressed, from indifferent to plain terrible, one wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the last away-game results in a major upset. Two weeks ago, Delhi were coasting into the semifinals, a week ago they were still in with a solid chance, now they have three must-win games ahead beginning with Bangalore.

If Delhi’s luck has taken a turn for the worse, Bangalore just haven’t caught a break all through. While Rahul Dravid will point to two half-tons, the latest unbeaten 36-ball 75 against Jaipur, his team has been a classic example of showing just what all can go wrong in sport despite the best intentions.

The Bangalore team owners sacked the CEO midway through the tournament – but what exactly was he to do if the team were getting beaten out in the middle – and completely eroded the captain’s confidence. The statements Vijay Mallya made in the press are baffling, given that successful businessmen usually find more constructive ways of solving problems than apportioning blame.

The situation in the Delhi camp is in stark contrast. While the team’s fortunes may have dipped, the owners, most visibly represented by CEO Yogesh Shetty, have not made one adverse comment about their own “staff”, the players. Behind closed doors they might be barracking the support staff and the players, but in public they’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the team even as tight games went against them.

The difficulty for Virender Sehwag is that his team is not doing badly. They’re actually playing some good cricket, and yet losing. Different things have cost them on different occasions – a vital dropped catch, a borderline umpiring call that went the wrong way, an over that was pasted at the wrong time – so it’s hard to put a finger on just what they should do.

What they are required to do is pretty clear with one look at the points table – win each of their remaining three games, against Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai. Delhi are now firmly in fifth place, and one can only safely rule out Bangalore and Hyderabad. For other teams in line for a semifinal spot, relying on others’ results is just not an option anymore. The big question is, if and when their luck turns, will it be too little too late for a team that has all the ingredients of being genuine contenders for the inaugural title?

Teams (from):

Bangalore: Rahul Dravid (captain), Abdur Razzak, Balachandra Akhil, KP Appanna, Jagadeesh Arunkumar, Praveen Kumar, Devraj Patil, Vinay Kumar, Mark Boucher (wk), Nathan Bracken, Bharat Chipli, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Anil Kumble, Dale Steyn, Cameron White, Wasim Jaffer, Sunil Joshi, Jacques Kallis, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Misbah-ul-Haq
Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

Delhi: Virender Sehwag (captain), Rajat Bhatia, AB de Villiers, Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Pradeep Sangwan, Daniel Vettori, Gautam Gambhir, Brett Geeves, Dinesh Karthik, Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof,
Shoaib Malik, Tejaswi Yadav, Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Asif, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Tehlan
Coach: Greg Shipperd

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