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A fight to avoid the wooden spoon

Devils, Warriors face off; aim to sign off with consolation win, writes N Ananthanarayanan. Match box

india Updated: May 21, 2011 15:48 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times

When newcomers Pune Warriors India were drawn to sign off their league campaign against the Delhi Daredevils, many would have seen it as a stellar match before the Indian Premier League slips into playoff mode. Sadly, it will be a mere cellar contest on Saturday.

What should have been the clash between two of India's most explosive batsmen, 'Player of the World Cup' and Pune skipper Yuvraj Singh versus Virender Sehwag, the Daredevils captain, will now be little more than an effort by the two teams to make sure they don't finish at the bottom of the table.

Wrong selections
From the time the Daredevils were put together at the January players' auction, it was clear there was something amiss as many from the previous three years were cut loose or could not be purchased by the team bosses.

Gautam Gambhir headed to the Kolkata Knight Riders, and others like AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik and even 'domestic' talent Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia could not be retained.

Splashing a princely sum for Irfan Pathan despite the fact that the all-rounder was coming back from long-term back problem eventually hurt the capital's IPL team.

The Daredevils simply failed to build any kind of momentum or winning run that only buried the odd good performances by various players, who rarely clicked as a team.

Ganguly attraction
It would have hurt Sehwag in more ways than one. He decided there was no point in punishing his injured shoulder any further and underwent the surgery. Despite their travails, Delhi have still been lucky as far as the crowd support is concerned.

The Ferozshah Kotla has attracted decent number of fans throughout the season and a good number is likely to turn up on Saturday as well.

Some would definitely come to watch Pune's ageing warrior Sourav Ganguly.

The former India skipper has not looked the part after somehow finding an IPL team, but his performances have lacked energy, leaving one to wonder whether it could be a farewell match, as it will only get more difficult another year down the line.

Hope in Hopes
The Daredevils, now led by James Hopes, will hope they can beat the Warriors for the second time this season.

That will also make sure Pune, rather than the home team, finish at the bottom of the points table.

Yuvraj has admitted more than once this season that it has been very difficult to lay a finger on what has gone wrong. The only saving grace for Pune Warriors would be that they would be facing a team who would perfectly understand that sinking feeling.

First Published: May 21, 2011 00:49 IST