Despite a flogging at the hands of the Mumbai Indians in their first game, the Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves in a handy spot after three games – third on the IPL table with a golden chance to go top of the table.
Their opponents Delhi Capitals are currently second on the IPL table, ahead of the Knight Riders on a superior net run rate.
Last time they met: Eden Gardens, April 2019
Despite a slow start, a quality half century from Shubman Gill (65 off 39) and some late-overs fireworks from Andre Russell (45 off 21) saw KKR post 7-178 in front of their home crowd. Kolkata’s total was below par as a quality 97 from Shikhar Dhawan ensured Delhi chased down 179 in the 19th over by seven wickets.
Delhi started their campaign with two wins in Dubai before a 15-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad in Abu Dhabi. Although losses in a tournament are expected, head coach Ricky Ponting is a serial winner, and we all know how much he hates losing. He’ll be looking to fire up his boys for a crucial clash and get back to winning ways.
Delhi’s top order hasn’t quite fired this season yet, but it’s still early days this IPL, and you’d expect one of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw or captain Shreyas Iyer to get among the runs and bat long. With a flatter pitch and small boundaries in Sharjah, this could be the perfect game for Shikhar Dhawan to break the shackles and go all guns blazing. With a middle order of Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer, expect fireworks with the bat.
Delhi’s bowling has been nothing short of world-class. Kagiso Rabada is averaging 10.71 with the ball at an economy of 6.25 this edition while all-rounder Axar Patel has an average of 23 at an economy of 4.6 in IPL 2020. If Ravi Ashwin recovers from his injury in time for this clash, then Delhi will have a formidable bowling attack for the KKR batsmen to deal with.
KKR have been going ahead with four batsmen and seven bowlers in their XI lately, and so far, the combination has worked. Shubman Gill and Eoin Morgan have been outstanding with the bat, but don’t count out the man that is Andre Russell. Promote him to three for this game and watch him slog sixes for fun over midwicket as the boundary dimensions put Eden Park to shame. Sunil Narine as an opener hasn’t worked this season, but with the shorter Sharjah boundaries, it wouldn’t hurt to give him one more chance at the top of the order.
Pat Cummins was heavily trolled on social media after his first game this season where he conceded 49 runs in three overs. Since then, the KKR quick’s figures are seven overs, 32 runs, two wickets, and 4.57 economy. With the new ball, Cummins is pitching the ball up and clocking high speeds and he is reaping the rewards. Talking of high speed, watch out for Indian guns Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The duo can clock 145-plus and have had success this season.
The critical battle in this game will be Kagiso Rabada versus Pat Cummins. Whoever bowls the better opening spell could swing the result in their team’s favour.
Delhi have an explosive batting line-up and a world-class bowling attack. KKR have an explosive middle over and an exciting bowling attack. The margins are very bare in this clash.
But KKR have more than one leader in their XI, with Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins all contributing on the field to help Dinesh Karthik. In contrast, Shreyas Iyer has Shikhar Dhawan and Kagiso Rabada to an extent for leadership help. Whatever the outcome of this result, expect a high-scoring thriller like we’ve seen in Sharjah this IPL.
Delhi Capitals – Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin/Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
Kolkata Knight Riders – Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (captain and wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy