Delhi Daredevils play host to the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Monday evening. A victory for Gautam Gambhir’s team will propel them to the top of the league table while the reverse should see their opponents displace them from second spot.
With well-rounded squads at their disposal, both sides are strong contenders for lifting the IPL title in 2017. Led by tactically astute captains, the two outfits feature plenty of eye-catching players and hence play attractive brands of cricket. With the stage set for an enthralling clash, let us take a look at five factors which can determine where the game is won or lost.
#5 With the bat
Delhi Daredevils contain a promising bunch of emerging Indian batsmen. As talented youngsters like Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer adorn their lineup, the team management has a hungry group to work with. Add in Sam Billings at the top of the order and Corey Anderson in the end overs, the batting department appears to possess adequate depth.
On the other hand, the Knight Riders have a batting lineup that has clicked in all the games with skipper Gautam Gambhir leading the charge. However, the left-hander has been in splendid form and is currently the tournament’s second highest run-scorer.
#4 With the ball
Delhi’s bowling department comprises of sprightly overseas quicks in Chris Morris and Pat Cummins along with proven Indian spinners. The fact that international stars such as Kagiso Rabada, Mohammed Shami and Jayant Yadav are not able to get opportunities speaks volumes about their front-line attack.
The Knight Riders have a similar amount of fire-power in their bowling unit. The likes of Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Trent Boult form a dangerous concoction of fast bowlers. Kuldeep Yadav’s exotic style of bowling adds an element of mystery to the proceedings. On the other hand, even with a remodelled action, Sunil Narine is still capable of delivering four high-quality overs at different stages of the innings.
The Daredevils have relied on picking up early wickets so that their spinners could apply a stranglehold on the remaining opposition batsmen during the middle-overs. And this time with an efficient top-order up against them, it will be interesting to see if their pacers can strike with the new ball.
Chris Lynn’s unfortunate injury has opened up a slot at the top of the order. The Knight Riders did not revert to the option of using Robin Uthappa and instead pulled off a major surprise by nominating Narine as Gambhir’s opening partner. The move paid rich dividends in the game against Kings XI Punjab. The left-hander smashed an 18-ball 37 to vindicate the decision. Even though he fell cheaply against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the team management should continue the experiment.
#2 Pitch and Conditions
The Feroz Shah Kotla usually produces a hard surface which offers good carry for the pacers. There has only been one match at this venue in the season thus far. The Daredevils scored 188 for the loss of just six wickets and reduced Kings XI Punjab to 137 for nine. With their tight lengths, the spinners proved to be difficult to get away.
Since it’s a 1600 IST start, the dew factor is not expected to make a significant change in the equation. The Knight Riders need to consider bringing in Shakib Al Hasan in place of New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme as the latter’s dibbly dobbly medium pace may not make much of a difference. On the other hand, the Bangladeshi player can create an impact with the bat as well. Meanwhile, the Daredevils are likely to go in with an unchanged eleven.
#1 Possible pitfalls
As the batting lineup is slightly inexperienced, Delhi Daredevils can be prone to collapses if the opposition bowlers really turn it on. In this regard, batsmen such as Karun Nair have to step up and find a way to contribute to the team’s cause. The absence of an off-spinner, who can take the ball away from the left-hander, also necessitates perceptive field placements against southpaws.
With their top-order having done the bulk of the scoring, the likes of Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav have not had much to do. The Knight Riders need to remain guarded against any signs of rustiness from the lower half of their batting lineup.