An exciting match is on the cards when the Delhi Daredevils take on the Kolkata Knight Riders today at the Ferozeshah Kotla for the first of the double-header. KKR are placed second on the points table with 3 wins in 4 games, while the Delhi Daredevils too have only lost one of their 4 matches so far.
Here are 4 key player-to-player battles you can look forward to in this match.
#1 Zaheer Khan vs. Gautam Gambhir
Zaheer Khan’s love for bowling to left-handed batsmen is a poorly kept secret in cricketing circles, with batsmen of the class of Graeme Smith, Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mathew Hayden featuring among some of his must haunted victims. So is Gambhir’s temptation to poke tentatively or flash hard at the moving ball, early in the innings and this battle between two former India teammates could set the tone right at the start of the innings.
The veteran left-hand seamer has looked lean and mean in the games so far and has made a statement that he still has all his tricks up his sleeve, bagging 5 wickets in 3 games at an average of 17.80.
Gambhir too is in good form and is second on the run chart with an aggregate of 182 runs in 4 games at an average of 91 and a strike rate of 144.44.
#2 Sam Billings vs. Sunil Narine
Known as one of the better players of spin bowling from England, Sam Billings has had a good run so far at the top of the order for the Delhi Daredevils and scored 55 in the last game against the Kings XI Punjab. Billings has shown the tendency to start a bit cautiously and then accelerate in the last couple of overs of the powerplay. Meanwhile, Gambhir has introduced his spinners exactly at this point of the innings in previous games.
Sunil Narine has been tidy and miserly with his spells so far, without being spectacular. Nevertheless, Billings will look to take on the spinner if he comes in at the end of the powerplay. This should make for an exciting contest between bat and ball.
#3 Amit Mishra vs. Manish Pandey
Vital to KKR's wins this season has been the knocks of Manish Pandey. The Karnataka batsman was on a lean patch going into the tournament, but has shown no signs of that in the IPL. In four games so far, he has scored 152 runs at a strike rate of 155, having been dismissed only once in three innings. The Indian international has singlehandedly taken care responsibility of KKR's batting in the middle order amidst poor returns from Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav.
Batting in the middle overs of the innings, Pandey is likely to be up against the wily leg-spin of Amit Mishra. When on one hand, you have a batsman who is a fearless stroke maker and on the other, a leggie who is not afraid to toss the ball and invite batsmen into playing a false stroke, it will be interesting to see who will come out on top
#4 Sanju Samson vs Kuldeep Yadav
The two played in the same Under-19 team when India played in the World Cup of 2014 and on Monday, will find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum playing for Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively.
Despite the presence of the foreigners in either sides, both players will form a key part of the respective sides. Samson has had a terrific start to the competition, having registered his maiden hundred in the game against the Rising Pune Supergiant while Kuldeep had a good outing with the ball against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.
Who will come out in this battle of the youngsters on Monday? We will know soon.