IPL has always witnessed something special when it comes to matches between teams languishing at the bottom half of the table. Similar action, thrill and entertainment is expected when Kings XI Punjab will host Delhi Daredevils at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on Sunday.
Both the teams are coming into this match after being beaten comprehensively in their previous matches and hence will be desperate to get back to winning ways in this match.
The last time these two teams met each other in Delhi, the home team registered a comprehensive victory by 51 runs over the visitors. However, it is the KXIP side, which is in a better position in the points table, being placed at No. 6 with six points to their name.
Delhi, on the other hand, have a lot of improvements to make as they are languishing right at the bottom of the table with four points to their name.
There are a lot of factors that will determine the side that is going to come out on top on Sunday. Let us now have a look at those factors which will be very vital for the two teams to emerge victorious-
#1) With the bat
Kings XI Punjab’s batting line-up looks much stronger than that of Delhi Daredevils on paper. However, like the previous couple of seasons, their middle order has again underperformed and disappointed. While the batsmen have had their individual moments of brilliance with the bat in the tournament so far, their inability to stitch partnerships has cost them dearly.
When there are players like Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in a squad, then it can be safely said that they will be tough to beat even for the best bowlers in the world. However, all of them have been huge disappointments except Hashim Amla.
The domestic batsmen haven’t been in best of forms either. Although Manan Vohra impressed in the initial part of the tournament, Wriddhiman Saha has had a lean patch since the start. This KXIP side has huge batting potential on paper but they need to transform it onto the field.
Delhi Daredevils, on the other hand, have a potent yet inexperienced batting line-up. Their top-order is mostly made up of young domestic Indian players and they end up being on the losing side because of their inability to maintain the tempo in the middle of the innings.
Moreover, there has been some mismanagement in batting order also. Delhi has constantly stuck with an out of form player like Karun Nair when there are other deserving players sitting on the fringes. Moreover, a player like Rishabh Pant deserves to bat at the top instead of batting at No.5.
And when it comes to hard-hitting all-rounders like Corey Anderson and Chris Morris, they should be batting no less than No.4 and 5. The reason is simply because Delhi lose the plot in middle overs and experience of both these players will count a lot.
So, from the batting perspective, it can be said that KXIP have an edge over DD, simply because of their experience.
#2) With the ball
There is no doubt here that Daredevils have a far superior bowling line-up as compared to KXIP. A pace attack comprising of the likes of Zaheer Khan, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Chris Morris and Corey Anderson looks intimidating.
And when it comes to the spin department, Delhi have someone like Amit Mishra who has the capability to outfox even the best players of spin with his leg-breaks and googlies.
Delhi have got each of its bowling area covered with Morris bowling both at the start and death, Rabada with the new ball, Cummins at different stages in short spells, Zaheer playing a similar role like Morris, Anderson chipping in with an odd over or two and Mishra slowing things down in the middle overs.
So, it looks like a compact bowling line-up which will enjoy the swinging conditions in Mohali.
KXIP, on the other hand, had their fair share of issues with the ball. They always start well with Sandeep and Mohit Sharma bowling in tandem. However, they lose the plot from the middle overs onwards when they start leaking runs.
They are absolutely horrible in the death; the only exception being Mohit Sharma who doesn’t find an able partner to bowl with during the death from the other end. Although the spinners account for wickets more often than not, they leak runs at a huge rate that doesn’t help KXIP. So, from the bowling perspective, Delhi are far-far ahead of Punjab.
The only area that Delhi should worry about is KXIP’s batting line-up. The openers are quite vulnerable against swing and hence Delhi will have to throw their best swing bowlers from the start. And it will be none other than the pair of Zaheer and Rabada. If they get through the top order early, including Shaun Marsh batting at No.3, their next target should be bowling spin to Glenn Maxwell and Eoin Morgan.
Both the batsmen have perished to spin in the past and Amit Mishra could be in for a real treat here.
KXIP hardly have any such resource to develop a strategy. However, one thing they could try is going hard at the inexperienced Delhi top-order. If they can get through them early then the rest of the Delhi batting line-up will be under real pressure.
All KXIP bowlers need to do then is to bowl tight line and lengths as the batsmen will only succumb under pressure.
Both teams have their X-factors. While it is the skipper Glenn Maxwell himself for KXIP, it is none other than the dangerous Chris Morris for DD. Maxwell is due for a big innings and it is the right time for him to step up and do the damage.
He is an effective off-spin bowler as well. He ended up with figures of 2-29 in his 4 overs among all that carnage against Sunrisers in the previous match and that must have given him some confidence to roll his arm over during the rest of the tournament as well.
Morris had a bad day in the previous match, going wicket-less and scoring only 11 runs. However, he is the most consistent player with the bat and ball since the last edition of IPL. If Delhi use him properly, Morris can blow away KXIP with both his batting and bowling.
#5) The All-Round Effect
DD have two proven all-rounders in Morris and Anderson and two potent all-rounders in Cummins and Rabada in their team. Hence, they can turn any match on its head either with their bowling or with their batting.
However, KXIP does not have such luxury as they only have Glenn Maxwell who bowls part-time spin and Axar Patel who doesn’t have the firepower in his batting like his skipper or the other DD all-rounders. So, in this perspective DD completely outplay the KXIP; but then again, Cricket has to be played on the field to see who’s better.