With Kagiso Rabada’s yorker to Andre Russell still fresh on every cricket fan’s mind, it will be interesting to see how the Delhi Capitals pacer counters the hard-hitting Kings XI Punjab batsmen when the two teams clash in Mohali on Monday.
Rabada helped the Capitals defend the lowest total (10) in a Super Over in Indian Premier League history after the scores were tied at 185 in the allotted 20 overs each.
Focus will now be on how the South African paceman would fare against the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and David Miller. R Ashwin-led KXIP would also have the advantage of playing at home and they will look to exploit familiar conditions once again.
KXIP have, incidentally, won more matches against Delhi than against any other opponent in the IPL. Punjab won both their matches against Delhi last season. In Mohali last year, KXIP chased down 167 to win by 6 wickets – the highlight of the match being Rahul’s 16-ball 51, during which he scored the fastest-ever half-century in the IPL.
Both sides are riding high on confidence having won their respective matches on Saturday, albeit in contrasting fashion. Delhi almost clinched defeat from the jaws of victory against KKR while Punjab were clinical against three-time champions Mumbai Indians.
While there was nothing similar in the nature of the wins, both the teams’ opening batsmen were the architects of their respective victories.
While Delhi’s Prithvi Shaw (55-ball 99) almost took the team home against Kolkata Knight Riders, Rahul (57-ball 71) finished the job for Punjab against Mumbai Indians.
Playing on home turf, Rahul, who had failed in his first two matches, played a controlled innings while Gayle (40) and Mayank Agarwal (43) also chipped in with crucial runs to help Punjab comfortably chase down the 177-run target, set by Mumbai.
Gayle was his usual self and batted in the manner only he can as 36 of his 40-run knock came in boundaries and sixes.
Rahul has the ability to steady the innings and play sheet anchor’s role and Gayle can puncture opposition camp’s plans to control the run flow, something that Delhi would be worried about.
Punjab’s bowling is spearheaded by Mohammed Shami and with other key players such as Andrew Tye and Hardus Viljoen in their ranks, it may not be easy for the visiting batsmen. However, the pace attack is also a concern for Punjab — the overall economy of KXIP’s quicks this season reads 10.13.
Delhi, for their part, will be desperate to get some momentum going after winning a close game. Chasing 186 to win against KKR, Delhi were set up nicely by Shaw but they failed score six runs from the last over, taking the match to Super Over.
However, Rabada’s sensational yorkers in all six balls restricted KKR to just seven runs while chasing 11. Delhi will be hoping not to let that advantage slip.
Besides Shaw, Delhi also have the likes of Rishabh Pant, who played a superb knock of 78 to pile up a mammoth 213 against Mumbai Indians in the first match, Shikhar Dhawan, captain Shreyas Iyer and Colin Ingram. All their main batsmen have been among the runs, now it will be a question of clicking consistently and as a unit. Captain Iyer will play his 50th IPL match for the Delhi Capitals and, having found some form in the previous game, would love to kick on.
Head-to-head in the IPL:
Overall: Matches – 22, Kings XI Punjab – 13, Delhi Capitals – 9.
In Mohali: Matches – 6, Kings XI Punjab – 5, Delhi Capitals – 1.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and David Miller, Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (capt), Colin Munro, Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Hanuma Vihari, Colin Ingram, Manjot Kalra, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Tewatia, Rishabh Pant, Ankush Bains, Sandeep Lamichhane, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Trent Boult, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Nathu Singh and Bandaru Ayyappa.
Match starts at 8pm (IST).
(With PTI and IPLt20.com inputs)