When Delhi Capitals take on Kings XI Punjab in the 13th edition of Indian Premier League in Dubai on Sunday, there are two fascinating match-ups at stake.
On the field, two young captains will square up against each other. In Shreyas Iyer, Delhi have a captain who will begin his second full season as the leader. In KL Rahul, Punjab have a new leader once again.
Off the field, Ricky Ponting and Anil Kumble — two all-time greats of the game — will be pitting their wits against each other, as head coaches of the two sides.
Player-to-player, Delhi Capitals seem to have a slight edge. In the spin department, the Delhi trio of R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel boast more match experience than their counterparts from the Mohali-based side. But in Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Ravi Bishoni, KXIP have two sensational young talents at their disposal.
Spin is expected to play a big role on the UAE pitches and this mini-battle will be one to watch out for.
The match, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, will also be a face-off between skippers Rahul and Shreyas, both seen as future India captaincy material. Their batting, however, is arguably more important for the sides.
On the batting front, the Capitals have one of the best assortments of India internationals, comprising Prithvi Shaw, Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, besides West Indian Shimron Hetmyer.
In this scenario, India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who was traded in from Rajasthan Royals, may be left out. Or perhaps, a new role in the lower order beckons.
The KXIP also boast of some of the finest clean hitters in the form of Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell and Rahul himself.
Maxwell’s confidence must be sky high after his ODI series-winning century (108) against England in Manchester. He also had a memorable run the last time the IPL was held in UAE, albeit partially, in 2014 when he hammered 552 runs in 16 games.
The KXIP have a dangerous opening pairing in Gayle and Rahul (if they persist with that combination) with Mayank Agarwal to follow. But it remains to be seen whether the 40-year-old Gayle will continue to be a regular feature at the top of the order this time around.
The Capitals may come up with a surprise by picking Big Bash League’s highest wicket-taker Daniel Sams along with Kagiso Rabada, leaving out senior India pacer Ishant Sharma.
For KXIP, India strike bowler Mohammad Shami will spearhead the pace department.
It is in the slow-bowling department that KXIP are short of star names, following the departure of Ashwin. Mujeeb is the sole established name and can be a handful on his day.
Ashwin, who led KXIP over the last two seasons, would love to pull one over his former side and he will be focussed on the job at hand alongside Mishra, who is the IPL’s second highest wicket-taker with 157 wickets.
History, though, favours KXIP who have won four out of the last five matches but it was the Capitals who emerged victorious in the last match between the two sides in the 2019 season.
Head to head
|Matches||Delhi wins||Punjab wins||Tied||Delhi win %||Punjab win %|
|DC v KXIP||24||10||14||0||41.67||58.33%|
- Chris Gayle is 16 short of scoring 4500 IPL runs. He is currently sixth on the all-time run-scorer list.
- KL Rahul needs 23 runs to complete 2000 IPL runs. He will be the 20th Indian to reach that landmark.
- Amit Mishra needs three more wickets to complete 100 wickets for the Delhi franchise
- Rishabh Pant is six sixes short of 100 IPL sixes. Gayle, for the record, sits at the top of the chart with 326 sixes.
DC's squad for IPL 2020
|Shreyas Iyer||Ishant Sharma||Axar Patel||Rishabh Pant|
|Prithvi Shaw||Amit Mishra||Harshal Patel||Alex Carey|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Avesh Khan||R Ashwin|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Sandeep Lamichhane||Lalit Yadav|
|Shimron Hetmyer||Kagiso Rabada||Marcus Stoinis|
|Keemo Paul||Daniel Sams|
|Chris Gayle||Mohammed Shami||K Gowtham||KL Rahul|
|Mayank Agarwal||Mujeeb ur Rahman||Glenn Maxwell||Nicholas Pooran|
|Karun Nair||Arshdeep Singh||Deepak Hooda||Prabhsimran Singh|
|Sarfaraz Khan||Hardus Viljoen||James Neesham|
|Mandeep Singh||M Ashwin||Chris Jordan|
|J Suchith||Tajinder Singh|
Match starts at 1930 IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar
(With PTI and iplt20.com inputs)