Battle of bottom-rankers as Delhi, Pune fight it out

New Delhi:  Bruised and battered after being at the receiving end for a major part of the past 42 days, both Delhi Daredevils and Pune Warriors would look to finish the Indian Premier League on a positive note when they face off in their last match of the season, here tomorrow.

In the battle of two bottom-placed teams, a lot will depend on the kind of start the openers provide.

In the absence of big-hitting opener Virender Sehwag, the Daredevils have struggled upfront and as a result, the middle order too found it difficult to handle the pressure.

Till a shoulder injury ruled him out of the tournament, Sehwag`s form was linked to Delhi`s success and whenever the opener fired the team fared better.

Since Sehwag`s departure, stand-in captain James Hopes has struggled to lead a team that has some talented youngsters such as Naman Ojha and Varun Aaron in its ranks, but lacks seasoned campaigners like some of the others teams.

On a comeback trail, Irfan Pathan has shone in patches giving the team breakthroughs besides producing some cameos with the willow, but has lacked consistency.

Pathan bowled with enough zeal in the last match, against Kings XI Punjab, picking up three wickets including those of Paul Valthaty and the in-form Shaun marsh.

The left-arm seamer`s partner, Morne Morkel too has failed to live upto the expectations, with the opposition batsmen often picking him for easy runs.

Young Aaron has raw pace but when it comes to variety, he still has some way to go.

The Daredevils also missed a quality spinner, so important in this part of the world.

Resorting to the likes of Yogesh Nagar and Sreedharan Sriram was never going to get them wickets at regular intervals or, for that matter, check the flow of runs.

The Daredevils` biggest let-down this season, however, has been the batsmen`s none-too-impressive showing.

Promoted to open the innings in the absence of Sehwag, Ojha`s partnership with David Warner did not really set the stage on fire.

What must have hurt the team even more is that Warner`s form dipped as the tournament progressed.

Venugopal Rao often looked like playing the lone ranger`s role but that did not bring the team victory.

As far as the Warriors are concerned, they too struggled to strike the right chord in the tournament.

Nine defeats and four wins — the same as the daredevils — was not what the debutants hoped for at the start of the tournament.