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19 Oct 2020 | 04:14 PM
authorSomesh Agarwal
Can KXIP continue the winning momentum against colossal Capitals?
With a few close contents in recent days, the tournament has come alive with possibilities. After beating RCB and MI, a win against DC can put KXIP in a position to script a comeback

A Super Over decided the winner the last time Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab faced each other. DC came on top as the game ebbed and flowed from Mohammed Shami’s attack with the new ball to Marcus Stoinis’ imperious finish in the first innings. After Mayank Agarwal’s knock all but sealed the game for his side, KXIP shot themselves in the foot and failed to chase one run in three balls.

After nine games each, the two sides are on opposite ends on multiple fronts. While DC are well placed for a top-2 finish, KXIP have to take one game at a time approach to keep their hopes alive for the playoffs. 

In the seven out of nine games DC have won so far, seven different players have won the man of the match award. Surprisingly, none of these seven players is Kagiso Rabada, the holder of the Purple Cap as of now. For KXIP, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have scored 61.5% of their runs in the tournament. If we include the contribution of Nicholas Pooran this percentage swells to 77%. In all their three wins, Rahul has won the man of the match award.

Strike Rates are Over-rated 

This is verbatim from what Rahul feels about batting in T20s. His opinion came after a deflating fifth loss in KXIP’s first six games. What followed after this game was a two-run defeat against KKR. KXIP were well in control with 29 needed in the last four overs and nine wickets in hand. Rahul himself had done everything with 58-ball 74, but could not help his side cross the line.

This innings was consistent with Rahul’s style of play in this season. In most of the games so far, Rahul has scored big and is a deserving holder of the Orange Cap. However, in seven out of nine innings, he has scored at a rate lower than his team’s run-rate or the asking rate at the start of the innings.

As he puts it while asserting that strike rates are over-rated, it is about how he can help his side win. But, if he scores at below the required rate, it is questionable if he is really helping his team win. No matter the target, a cautious approach has made them scrap for every run to cross the line. In their reverse fixture against RCB, the game went to the last ball when they needed 7 off 12 with nine wickets in hand. Rahul scored two runs in six of these balls.

It will be too harsh to put the onus of his team’s underperformance on KL Rahul. Holding the responsibility of captaining a struggling side along with the wicket-keeping duties as well, wishes are pouring for his side due to his efforts from left, right and centre. But, in a team in which there are hardly any competent replacements for Glenn Maxwell who has let them down every time he has walked out to bat, it is about the adequate distribution of responsibility among in-form players.

A little more aggression from Rahul, like in their last game against MI, can help others to bat themselves in as well. Even if Rahul manages to improve his strike-rate against spin a bit, a mere 96.52 right now as compared to 152.21 against pace, KXIP players and management might have a few nails left after their games.

With the ball, after some nightmare performances early on, Murugan Ashwin and Arshdeep Singh have lifted KXIP. In the last two games, they have managed to win crucial moments to earn a hard-fought victory against two sides that have dominated in this season. A win against DC will complete a trio of victory against the top-3 sides and can fuel their hopes for a revival.

Colossal Capitals

Delhi Capitals have been the most dominant team of the tournament so far. Their best attribute has been finding a way out of tricky circumstances. It is a testament of the fighting attitude of the team that even without key players like Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer they have managed to win two of their last three games.

Such has been the dominance of the Capitals with bat and ball that they are the most economical bowling side and have the second-best run-rate. Challenging the norm, despite not having a leg-spinner in the mix, their spinners have the best economy rate of 6.5 and the best balls per wicket record of 20.8.

They have added the Karnataka leggie, Praveen Dubey, as a replacement for Amit Mishra. However, it will be unlikely if they change a set bowling line-up. With the bat, DC look vulnerable with and Ajinkya Rahane at three and Shreyas Iyer pushed to four. 

KXIP can exploit the unavailability of Pant and an indifferent form of Prithvi Shaw who has two ducks in the last two games. So far, Shikhar Dhawan has put his hand up in the time of need and has played the role of an anchor. Against KXIP, he can make one more contribution for Delhi if he opts to help out his young opening partner and take strike for a change.

Probable XIs

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh.

Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (c), Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tushar Deshpande

Kings XI PunjabDelhi CapitalsKannaur Lokesh RahulMayank Anurag AgarwalShreyas Santosh IyerKagiso Rabada
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