Patchy Sehwag hurts Delhi

Virender Sehwag cracks the ball towards point Indian Premier League

It may seem inappropriate to hold Virender Sehwag responsible for Delhi Daredevils' disappointing season thus far. But let's just blame him. In fact, Sehwag has been out of sorts. This claim might seem audacious, given he's the highest run-getter for Delhi Daredevils this season and is No.8 in the overall list. But barring his blistering 75 against Rajasthan Royals in their second match, Sehwag's contributions have fallen short of improving Delhi's fortunes. The seven others in that list have had a big impact in boosting their respective teams.

Sehwag has failed to wield the same power that has demoralised the most formidable bowling attacks in international cricket. For India, nothing is a hopeless situation when Sehwag is around, and he has managed to pull off magical acts with an unflinching nerve in the last five years.

However, Sehwag has failed to achieve such dominance in Twenty20 cricket and Delhi are slowly but surely feeling the pinch. Immediately after the last IPL, Sehwag voluntarily stepped down from the Delhi captaincy to concentrate on, and enjoy, his batting. When Sehwag enjoys his batting, he can play those bold strokes effortlessly. But in this IPL, Sehwag has managed to get out playing shots half-heartedly, as he did against Kings XI Punjab, or when unnecessary. The latter was evident today.

David Warner's powerful assault had put Delhi in a strong position at the end of the Powerplay and they needed a further 115 in 14 overs to get closer to a semi-final berth. Based on his track record and reputation, Sehwag had the might to achieve the target on his own. But he played a frustrating innings, taking unnecessary risks, surviving twice and eventually running out of luck. Sehwag had been lucky not to be caught by Ali Murtaza at mid-on, with the ball falling inches short; he then failed to improvise against the slower delivery from Dilhara Fernando, hitting a skier, but Murtaza spilled it.

Sehwag was intent on clearing the fence and there was nothing wrong with his motive. The situation, though, demanded he drop anchor after losing Gautam Gambhir, who spooned a catch to Harbhajan Singh.

The run-rate was still healthy and with match-winners in previous games like Dinesh Karthik and Paul Collingwood still to come, Delhi's grip was still strong. Just then, Sehwag opted for a suicidal second run, having pulled into the empty space at mid-on. Despite seeing a charging Kieron Pollard, Sehwag scampered back foolishly and fell short of the crease, much to the crowd's delight. Sehwag looked skywards a few times and squeezed his eyes shut, lamenting his unpardonable error.

Sehwag is Delhi's most important player, just like Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly are for their teams. While Gambhir claimed "there is no trump card" in Twenty20 cricket, he would be the first to admit Sehwag is Delhi's pilot. Their flight will continue to be shaky till while Sehwag remains unsettled. With just two matches remaining in their campaign, and the realistic possibility of being knocked out, Sehwag needs to think quick and step up.