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With backs against the wall, it’s 'swim or sink' time for DC and KKR

Last updated on 19 Apr 2023 | 04:20 PM
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With backs against the wall, it’s 'swim or sink' time for DC and KKR

While Delhi Capitals are yet to open their account in the ongoing Indian Premier League, Kolkata have only two wins in five games

If you’re a cricket journalist in India or remotely associated with cricket in any way, there’s a great chance your inbox and call logs will be filled with umpteen demands for tickets (passes, eh) during April and May each year. There’s nothing unusual about it, even though it is an open fact that procuring a ticket is an even tougher task for a journalist than the person who is asking for it. But there’s never an end to this circus. 

But today has been surprisingly different. Less than 24 hours to go for the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, I've had literally zero ticket requests from my friends in Delhi. This, despite the clash being only the third game at the venue this season - the excitement has been virtually null and void among the cricket fans. 

In five games so far, Delhi Capitals are winless, whereas their opponents Kolkata Knight Riders have blown hot and cold. Two wins have been interspersed to give an account of their standing, but they require the team to stand together for it to be sustainable over the next few weeks. However, a win on Thursday will give them some sort of footing to challenge the teams further.

Things to watch out for

End in sight for Warner’s tentativeness?

As captain, David Warner has badly struggled this year to put together a win for Delhi Capitals, but what has put even more pressure on him is his dwindling performance as a batter. Even though he had scored 35-plus in four matches including three fifties, his strike rate of 117 is the third-lowest among batters who have scored 100+ runs in the IPL.

Apart from IPL 2021, his strike rate has never fallen below 130 in any IPL season since 2014. That is reflected in the performance of the side directly, and with no other capable batter in sight, it has become a double whammy. However, he would be glad about the fact that the opposition he is facing next is KKR against whom he has amassed 1018 runs at an average of 44.3 and a strike rate of 146. DC would want nothing but an encore. 

Shaw back against his favourite opponent

This IPL was supposed to be where Prithvi Shaw would have relaunched himself to a new level in the shortest format, but instead he has averaged just 6.8 in five innings. The batter has not crossed the 20-run mark even once in this IPL. His average of 6.8 is the worse amongst all openers who have batted in more than four games in IPL 2023. He also has the least runs among these batters. That pretty much mirrors the kind of season that Delhi Capitals have had.

However, there is a silver lining for him. His performance against KKR has always been top notch. He has scored the most amount of runs and averages better against Kolkata than any other opponent he has faced in the IPL. While the Delhi Capitals’ middle order has been the least contributing middle order in IPL 2023, Shaw’s past record will provide some sort of solace for DC fans, who are eagerly awaiting their team’s first win. 

Tactical Nous

> Rinku Singh has only scored 30 runs against spinners in the ongoing IPL, but against pacers, he is a different beast altogether, with a strike rate of 190, while hitting a boundary every 3.6 balls against them. He has the third-highest strike rate against pacers among players who have scored a minimum of 100 runs against them this season. Rinku is very strong in outside off-stump areas against pacers, with his bat yielding eight sixes in that line against pacers this season. 

> Narine has struggled against left-handed batters this season, taking only two wickets against them. He also has not been economical against them, with an economy of 10.1 against them this season. His off-break delivery is very effective against RHB as he has taken all of his four RHB wickets through off-breaks, but against left-hand batters, the same delivery has not been effective as he has an economy of 13 this season. His carrom ball has also not been so effective against LHB as he has an economy of 9.3 in carrom deliveries against them.

> Sure enough, David Warner has a terrific record against Kolkata but he would be well aware of the threat that awaits him. That's Umesh Yadav. In 10 innings, Warner has been dismissed by Umesh five times, scoring just 93 runs against the veteran. That is an interesting battle to look forward to.

Ground details

Two games have so far been played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium and it’s proven to be a moderately high-scoring venue, with the team batting first posting scores of 172 and 162 respectively. But the scores have to be taken with a pinch of salt as it was the out-of-confidence DC side that batted first on both occasions. The chasing sides won both times!

So far, the Arun Jaitley Stadium has proven to be a mixed bag for the seamers. They’ve picked up nearly 71% of the wickets but their economy has been on the higher side, 9.1 rpo. In contrast, the spinners have taken only 29.2% of the wickets (7 wickets in total) but have been economical, going at just 7.2 runs per over. This should interest the Knight Riders, who have three quality spinners in their XI.

Probable XIs

DC: David Warner (c), Mitchell Marsh, Yash Dhull, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Aman Hakim Khan, Lalit Yadav, Abishek Porel (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Mustafizur Rahman

KKR: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, N Jagadeesan, Nitish Rana (c), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Lockie Ferguson / Tim Southee, Varun Chakaravarthy

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