Two lowly ranked teams will face off for the first time in this IPL with the hopes of changing their fortunes for the better as the tournament approaches the playoffs. The Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions have seen the ups and downs (mostly downs) of the game throughout this season, and need to win all their games and hope the equations turn in their favour if they harbour any hopes of making it to the top four in this edition.
For both teams, their batsmen will need to come up with stellar performances to see their sides through: while the Lions have an army of power-hitters in the form of Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch, the Delhi batting is being led by the young shoulders of Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant.
When: 2000 hours (IST)
Where: Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi
While the hosts might be riding high on their three-wicket win in the last game (that brought an end to their five matches losing streak) and will be looking to bank on the home advantage of playing four of their remaining five group stage games at the Kotla.
The Gujarat side has tried their batting combinations at the top, pushing young Ishan Kishan to open the innings after mixed contributions in the middle order. Suresh Raina would want to get back to form soon, especially with the Champions Trophy just a stone’s throw away.
If Gujarat Lions bat first
Ishan Kishan at the top of the order has given Gujarat some brisk starts but has failed to capitalise on them. As an opener, he has more time to express himself. The batting line-up will have to be wary of a testing spin attack comprising of Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem (or Jayant Yadav) in the middle overs.
The Gujarat bowling banks on Basil Thampi, having sidelined both Dhawal Kulkarni and Praveen Kumar from the playing XI. Pradeep Sangwan made a re-entry into the IPL and looked in good nick, and should be persisted with. Ankit Soni and James Faulkner, along with Ravindra Jadeja form the rest of the bowling attack.
If Delhi Daredevils bat first
Karun Nair will be reprising his role as captain, with Zaheer Khan down and out with a hamstring injury. The interim captain has had a torrid IPL till now, and although he looked in good nick in the last game, Delhi require much more from him. Sanju Samson has blown hot and cold, while Shreyas Iyer has failed to repeat his performances from the previous seasons. The presence of Chris Morris in the middle order gives the team the assurance of garnering quick runs in the final overs.
Their bowling is their biggest strength, although Kagiso Rabada took quite a beating in their last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The spinners will have a big role to play, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Jayant Yadav against the left-handed trio of Suresh Raina, Ishan Kishan and Ravindra Jadeja.
Predicted winners: Delhi Daredevils