Eyeing a maiden IPL title, the fancied Delhi Capitals will face another litmus test in the form of a Kolkata Knight Riders unit brimming with optimism when the two sides lock horns in the second qualifier here on Wednesday.
Delhi Capitals failed in their first big test when they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier and another defeat will mean there will be no more examination for the strong squad, led by India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. DC, who topped the league stage with as many as 10 wins for a total of 20 points, are well aware of the task that awaits them. Since Australian great Ricky Ponting took over as their coach, Delhi Capitals have grown from strength to strength as they finished second runners up in the 2019 edition before reaching the summit clash last year.
This year there aim is to do one better and win the title.
They are one of the most balanced sides in the tournament with a formidable batting line-up and a potent pace attack that is aided by seasoned spinners including Ravichandran Ashwin.
In Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer, Delhi boast of a solid top order. Pant, along with Shimron Hetmyer, look after the middle order, even as they missed the injured Marcus Stoinis' prowess.
On the bowling front, the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje has proved to be a dream pair. Then there is speedster Avesh Khan, who has taken 23 wickets so far in this season of the tournament, and he will back himself to add to his tally against KKR.
Young Indian pacer Avesh Khan has been impressive with his wicket-taking capability and economy.
Probable XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (c&wk), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan
Squad: Shreyas Iyer, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant (captain/wk), Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Avesh Khan, Sam Billings, R Ashwin, Prithvi Shaw, Ishant Sharma, Vishnu Vinod, Marcus Stoinis, Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Lalit Yadav, Shimron Hetmyer, Pravin Dubey, Ripal Patel, Steve Smith, Anrich Nortje, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Ben Dwarshuis, Lukman Meriwala, Kulwant Khejroliya.
Eoin Morgan's Kolkata Knight Riders saw a massive reversal of fortunes in the Gulf after enduring a disastrous first half in India earlier this year. They just about managed to sneak into the playoffs at the expense of five-time defending champions Mumbai Indians, thanks to their better net run rate. And if their performance against RCB is any indication, KKR is raring to go and will want to do more than just end their campaign in the playoffs.
On a pitch offering turn, KKR's spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine will look to test the formidable Delhi batting lineup. Batting hasn't been KKR's biggest strength this season and DC will look to capitalise on that. Up against a potent bowling attack, the likes of Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi (team's top-scorer this season with 393 runs so far) and Morgan himself will need to rise to the occasion if KKR is to make the final, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni's three-time winners Chennai Super Kings await.
Key player: Sunil Narine’s superb all-around performance against RCB is certain to provide sleepless nights to any batter or bowler who is set to take on him in the T20 format.
Probable XI: Venkatesh Iyer, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi
Squad: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan(c), Dinesh Karthik(w), Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna, Harbhajan Singh, Shakib Al Hasan, Tim Southee, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Kuldeep Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sheldon Jackson, Sandeep Warrier, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Vaibhav Arora
Timing: Match starts at 7.30 pm and the toss will take place at 7 pm.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Betting Odds (Oddschecker):
-with agency inputs
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)