Two teams, perennial underachievers since the inception of the IPL, lock horns in Delhi’s first IPL game, with the aim of rectifying their reputation. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils have always punched below their weight for some reason, but Saturday gives them a chance to wake up from their mid-table slumber and move into a more advanced position.
The Delhi team’s concerns with batting started before the season itself: Quinton de Kock and Jean-Paul Duminy were unavailable, and Shreyas Iyer contracted chicken pox just before the tournament. Yet, the youngsters (first Rishabh Pant, followed by Sanju Samson), have stepped up and delivered with the bat.
For Punjab, the bowling attack is bustling with the trio of Sharmas (Mohit, Sandeep and Ishant), but the track at Kotla might demand more resources on the spin front, which could mean the inclusion of someone like Pardeep Sahu or KC Cariappa to assist Axar Patel.
Their batting runs with two main motors: namely Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, with the likes of Hashim Amla and Wriddhiman Saha operating in auxiliary mode.
Where: Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
When: 2000 (IST)
If Kings XI Punjab bat first
Predicted score: 165+
Hashim Amla has been in good nick at the top of the order, using his orthodox technique to fire away boundaries in the powerplay overs. Glenn Maxwell has looked in ominous touch, and showed just why he is considered one of the most attacking T20 players when he tore open Piyush Chawla’s bowling in the last match.
Wriddhiman Saha, generally a trusted batsman in the Punjab ranks, has failed to fire thus far. Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel are the two all-rounders: the latter was pushed to the No.3 position but failed to make much impact.
If Delhi Daredevils bat first
Predicted score: 160+
Shreyas Iyer, who was sidelined for the first two matches, is set to return to the playing XI, most likely taking the opening slot with Sam Billings at the expense of Aditya Tare. There was a lot of talk about Sanju Samson and how he had just been a talent wasting his chances for the past few seasons. He silenced all his detractors with a sensational ton, the first of IPL 2017.
Lower down the order is Rishabh Pant, whose combative 57 has been the highlight of the IPL thus far, a sensational effort in the shadow of a personal tragedy. His attacking instincts are a bonus to the likes of Chris Morris, who himself played a sensational cameo against Pune.
Predicted winners: Kings XI Punjab