Sharjah, as many expected, has been a paradise for big-hitters so far in the Indian Premier League. Sixes have been aplenty, 200-plus score has been the norm and bowlers have found it tough.
That could only be reiterated when two sides boasting of brilliant strokemakers meet at the venue on Saturday in the second match of the tournament’s first double-header.
Andre Russell’s power will be Kolkata Knight Riders’ main weapon while Delhi Capitals will hope for a trademark fearless approach from Rishabh Pant when DC take on KKR with an aim to light up the Sharjah skyline in what promises to be another six-hitting IPL contest on Saturday.
Russell gave a glimpse of what is in store from him at the tournament again with three sixes at a big Dubai ground against Rajasthan Royals while Pant, after a sedate (as well as mature) start in the campaign, will be itching to throw caution to the wind and play his natural game – destructive edge of the seat hitting.
DC in IPL 2020
|DC vs KXIP||20 Sep||Dubai||DC won Super Over|
|CSK vs DC||25 Sep||Dubai||DC won by 44 runs|
|DC vs SRH||29 Sep||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 15 runs|
KKR in IPL 2020
|KKR vs MI||23 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR lost by 49 runs|
|KKR vs SRH||26 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 7 wickets|
|RR vs KKR||30 Sep||Dubai||KKR won by 37 runs|
In fact, Pant needs it more than Russell as three of his peers, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson have got runs under their belt, something that Delhi lad so desperately needs.
This will be the first weekend of double-headers in the IPL and there couldn’t have been a better ground for that than Sharjah, which has short boundaries and a flat-ish pitch, promising another run-feast.
If there is Shubman Gill, Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan on one side, there is Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis and Shreyas Iyer on the other end, all capable big-hitters and ever ready to add to the whopping 62 sixes that have been hit on this ground in the two games held there so far.
KKR have been slowly getting into the groove with some comprehensive performances while Capitals, after two fine victories, hit a roadblock against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last outing.
For the Knights, their young pace attack of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi will have their task cut out on a batting paradise where their temperament will be put to test.
In Sharjah, a bowler is destined to go for runs and how the two manage that and bring in subtle variations might well be key to KKR’s success.
KKR are unlikely to tinker with their winning combination even though Sunil Narine as an opener hasn’t worked well for them in three games so far this season with only 24 runs scored by the Trinidad all-rounder. He too would be relishing the prospect of batting in Sharjah and getting his batting form back. He has bowled his full quota of overs in three games with a decent under 8 economy rate and two wickets.
There is Tom Banton as a reserve opener but keeping the dimensions of the Sharjah ground into equation, KKR will persist with Narine provided he can attack the weak link in the DC attack which obviously will be an Indian pacer – be it Mohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma or Avesh Khan.
Speaking ahead of the game, Capitals coach Ryan Harris believed his team was not at their best in their last match, and is not in a panic situation at all.
“Coming off an unlucky loss, we just weren’t at our best for that game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. But, there’s no panicking by any means,” he said.
The problem with most of the Indian pacers in DC is either back of the length or length balls which are cannon fodder on the Sharjah strip, something bowling Harris would like to work on.
Giving an update on Ashwin Ravichandran’s injury, Harris said: “He’s doing excellent. He had a really good session last night with the ball, bat and in the field. So he might be available for selection for, but we are still waiting for our medical staff’s confirmation this evening.”
In their batting department, Shimron Hetmyer is yet to fire but again the same formula that applies to Narine in KKR is also applicable on the former West Indies U-19 World Cup winning captain, provided he can take on Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy.
Hetmyer has had some degree of success against Kuldeep in international games and it could be an engaging contest if he gets a chance to bat on a track where history favours the top four from either side.
Head to head
|Matches||DC win||KKR win||Tied||DC win%||KKR win%|
|DC vs KKR||23||10||13||1 (DC won)||43.48%||56.52%|
|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|
|Nitish Rana||Kuldeep Yadav||Andre Russell||Dinesh Karthik|
|Rinku Singh||Prasidh Krishna||Sunil Narine||Nikhil Shankar Naik|
|Shubman Gill||Sandeep Warrier||Pat Cummins|
|Siddhesh Lad||Shivam Mavi||Varun Chakravarthy|
|Eoin Morgan||Kamlesh Nagarkoti||Chris Green|
|Rahul Tripathi||Lockie Ferguson|
|Tom Banton||M Siddharth|
Match starts 1930 IST and will be broadcast live on Star Sports network / Disney+ Hotstar
(With PTI inputs)
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