Rising Pune Supergiants are now starring down the barrel with only two wins from eight games
Biggest plus in the last two games for the Daredevils has been the performance of their skipper Zaheer Khan
A supremely confident Delhi Daredevils return to their den and have a struggling and injury-ravaged Rising Pune Supergiants in their firing line up next in the Indian Premier League, in New Delhi, on Thursday.
Injuries to key players such as Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Faf Du Plessis have completely disturbed the team composition and the debutants are now starring down the barrel with only two wins from eight games so far.
Left with six more matches, the task is only getting tougher with each passing day for the team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Now, Rising Pune Supergiants face a side that has gradually turned into a formidable outfit, thanks to a brilliant team effort under the watchful eyes of the iconic Rahul Dravid.
After years of struggles, Daredevils' turnaround this season is a perfect example of how a side should be shepherded. They are comfortably placed at number two in the points table.
The players are sticking to the basics whether it is batting or bowling. The seniors are taking more responsibilities and the youngsters are being given enough opportunities to excel at a stage where performances are taken note of.
The biggest plus in the last two games for the Daredevils has been the performance of their skipper Zaheer Khan. When he opened the bowling, he has managed to get early breakthroughs and has been impressive in the death overs, too.
Zaheer has found his rhythm and it is difficult to score off him. Amit Mishra has also played a crucial role in Daredevils' consistent show this season.
Adding to that, their batsmen are in top form. Quinton De Kock has been scoring runs consistently and the way young Rishabh Pant batted while opening against Lions, on Tuesday night, Daredevils have plenty of options at the top.
The return of JP Duminy has only bolstered the middle-order.
The horses for courses approach has done wonders for the side and it will be not be a surprise if fans again see changes in the playing XI on Thursday.
Carols Brathwaite had returned against Kolkata Knight Riders and made an impact straightaway. He scored 34 off 11 and then took three wickets to be the Man of the Match.
But the West Indian was not played in the game against Gujarat Lions last night. Since the nature of the Feroz Shah Kotla track has changed it is possible that Brathwaite comes back.
Shahbaz Nadeem was impressive when he removed two top-order Lions batsman – the dangerous Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch – and the hosts may keep him in the side.
Sanju Samson, though, needs to fire. Except for one match, he has not shown his true worth. He has got starts but has not capitalised on those. He is one player who has managed to keep his place untouched in the side and need to respond to the faith reposed in him by the management.
Pune Supergiants have struggled to defend. Even the score in the vicinity of 200 could not be saved. The bowlers have let the side down, but Dhoni hardly has options.
Ashok Dinda, Albie Morkel, R Ashwin, Thisara Perera have all looked pedestrian. If the side is to move up from its current sixth position, they will have to come up with some inspiring performances.
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Sam Billings, Khaleel Ahmed, Carlos Brathwaite, Nathan-Coulter-Nile, Quinton De Kock, JP Duminy, Akhil Herwadkar, Imran Tahir, Shreyas Iyer, Mahipal Lomror, Chama Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Shahbaz NAdeem, karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant, Pratyush Singh, Sanju Samson, Pawan Suyal and Jayant Yadav.
Rising Pune Supergiants: MS Dhoni (capt), Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Mirugan Ashwin, R Ashwin, George Bailey, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Scott Boland, Deepak Chahar, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khwaja, Albie Morkel, Ishwar Pandey, Irfan Pathan, Thisara Perera, Ashok Dinda, Peter Hanscomb, Ishwar Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh,
Saurabh Tiwary and Adam Zampa.