Past numbers mean little, especially when it comes to the head-to-head record. Sunrisers Hyderabad have defeated Delhi Capitals 11 times in 18 face-offs. But currently, they come to Match 20 of IPL 2021 with three defeats in four games. Delhi, on a contrasting note, have the same number of wins in as many games.
There lie stark juxtapositions between the two sides. Hyderabad have bottled games from the position of a potential win while Delhi have been resolute at crucial junctures to win consecutive games. The Rishabh Pant-led side will aim to continue the same, in Chennai, on Sunday (April 25).
Finally a combination for Hyderabad?
Hyderabad have been searching for a combination since the previous season of IPL. Always trying to plug too many holes with their fourth overseas cricketer, they played three different players in the first three games - Mohammad Nabi, Jason Holder and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Falling every time, they decided to play their best cards with the bat - playing both Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson to support David Warner.
It paid rich dividends as Hyderabad finally registered their first win. Their contingent of Indian bowlers used the pitch to their advantage and they chased down the target with a newly found sense of calmness.
This seems to be Hyderabad’s best combination in a long time. But will that work against Delhi?
How they stack up for the Delhi challenge?
Hyderabad don’t have an off-spinner in their side to tackle Delhi’s batting loaded with left-handers. They ran into Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran last game but were lucky that the latter was run out without facing a ball.
Delhi is supposed to play with three left-handers - Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer & Rishabh Pant - which can neutralize Abhishek Sharma’s presence in Hyderabad’s bowling attack. Abhishek was a key element in Hyderabad’s bowling against Punjab, going for only 24 runs in his four overs while picking two wickets. The only offie in Hyderabad’s squad is Mohammad Nabi who can’t get a game because of the four overseas players rule.
Besides, Hyderabad are still vulnerable number 4 onwards. Kane Williamson is an excellent addition. Since IPL 2020, Hyderabad have won 62% of their games with Williamson in the side - a massive improvement over a win percentage of 14% when playing without him. He has been superb in negating spin, a necessary skill in Chennai. But beyond him at three, a middle-order of Virat Singh, a mercurial Kedar Jadhav who has not done anything notable in IPL since the opening games of 2018, Vijay Shankar and Abhishek Sharma could be a buffet for a side that has picked 51 wickets at the death since last IPL, the most for any side. Needless to say, one amongst the top three will need to bat till the end.
Also, it remains interesting to see how Hyderabad approach the innings if they are put into bat first. Till now, they have chased in each of their four games and have batted accordingly.
Delhi’s ghost against Rashid
Hyderabad defeated Delhi twice in the league stage last year and both the victories were engineered by brilliant spells by Rashid Khan. In the second league game between the two sides, Rashid conceded only 7 runs in his four overs, also snaffling three wickets.
It will be further difficult to tackle Rashid in Chennai. He has picked five wickets thus far in four games. Teams have played out Rashid (economy rate of 5.1) and have batted aggressively against the others. Delhi are more likely to do the same but to what degree they will be successful remains to be seen.
Also, Rashid has been a little off the radar against left-handers of late. Since IPL 2020, his bowling average against left-handers is 22.1 in comparison to 15 against right-handers. Once again, Delhi’s trio of left-handers comes into the limelight.
Getting off the mark on the points table, Hyderabad would like to persist with the same XI. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is reportedly out for two games and Sandeep Sharma is expected to fill in for him. T Natarajan is out of the tournament.
Talking about the other camp, Delhi have to decide if they want to bring Axar Patel straight into the XI. Recovered from covid, Patel must be short on match practice but matches up quite nicely against the right-hander heavy batting line-up for Hyderabad. Although, he can only replace Lalit Yadav who put in an all-round performance in the last game. Rishabh Pant stated that they are trying to groom him and it would be quite contradictory to his statement if he is dropped after a decent performance.
SRH: David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson, Virat Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed
DC: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis. Lalit Yadav/Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada/Anrich Nortje, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan