Virtually out of the reckoning for a place in the plays offs, a demoralised Deccan Chargers would look to salvage some pride when they take on Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.
Having won just two out of the 11 matches they played so far in the tournament, Deccan is presently languishing at the bottom of the team standings with just five points.
Though Deccan batsmen put up an impressive show against Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday, the lacklustre performance of their bowlers and AB de Villiers superlative batting poured cold water on the Hyderabad outfit's hope of staging a comeback.
After posting a more-than-challenging 181 for two on the board, Deccan bowlers failed to rise to the occasion as de Villiers scored a whirlwind 47 not out off just 17 balls to to guide RCB to the five-wicket win with seven balls to spare.
There would be added pressure on Deccan tomorrow as they will play in Hyderabad for the first match in this tournament. Deccan's batting, off late, has fired with big-hitting Cameron White, who has scored three half centuries in the last five games, Shikhar Dhawan, captain Kumar Sangakkara and Daniel Harris all finding themselves among runs.
But what Deccan lacks is firepower in its bowling department. Barring Dale Steyn, the Hyderabad team does not have quality bowlers in their ranks. Their domestic pacers in Veer Pratap Singh, A Ashish Reddy and Anand Rajan have also failed to provide the South African speedster ample support from the other end.
The spin department also lacks sting with leg-spinner Amit Mishra resembling a pale shadow of himself. Kings XI, on the other hand, is still in with a chance of making it to the knockout stages having garnered 10 points from 11 games.
The Punjab side would make a determined bid to win against a struggling Deccan tomorrow to improve its position in the points table. After consecutive wins over defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI suffered a 43-run defeat at the hands of Rajasthan Royals in their last game.
And come tomorrow, the Adam Gilchrist-led side would be hoping to return to winning ways as a single defeat in the remaining five games could jeopardise their play off chances.
Former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood's presence in the side, after his visa issue was resolved, has meant that Punjab have struck the right balance. The 37-year-old Mahmood, now a British national, seems to have infused new energy in the side, which looked down in the dumps at one stage. The aggressive medium pacer has not only impressed with his wicket-taking abilities and temperament in crunch situations, but also made useful contributions with the bat.
Stand-in skipper David Hussey's leadership has revived the sagging fortunes of the team. In the absence of Gilchrist, who is nursing a hamstring injury, Hussey has led the team from the front scoring 263 runs from 11 games so far with a half century to his credit. But leading the pack among Kings XI batsmen are Aussie left-hander Shaun Marsh (290) and domestic player Mandeep Singh (284).
In the bowling department, medium pacer Praveen Kumar and find of this season, Parvinder Awana have been doing a good job. The inclusion of Ryan Harris has further bolstered Punjab 's bowling arsenal.
Even though he is costing a few runs, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has reapead rich dividends with the ball for Kings XI and is presently the third highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 scalps to his name so far.