We’re down to three from the eight that originally began IPL 2021, and Chennai Super Kings having already booked their place in the final means that it’ll be the Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders who will collide in Sharjah on Wednesday for a spot in the Grand Finale. And it has to be said that the two sides will enter the contest in rather contrasting form.
The Knight Riders have been the most in-form side in the second leg of IPL 2021, and they will be flying high after having beaten Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator. They are unbeaten in Sharjah this season, and they also incidentally beat the Capitals at the venue in their previous H2H clash. They will be oozing confidence as they aim to reach the final.
The Capitals, meanwhile, might have finished top of the table, but will enter Qualifier 2 on the back of consecutive losses. They were out-smarted by CSK in Dubai, and will have to be at their very best to trump KKR come Wednesday, despite having been the more dominant side through the course of the tournament.
Chapter three of this rivalry this season promises to be an absolute cracker.
Head to Head
Matches – 28 | KKR – 15 wins | RCB – 12 wins | No Result - 1
Last five matches
KKR - 2 wins | Delhi - 3 wins
Qualifier 2 will be played in Sharjah, and, as we know, it is by some distance the slowest and most sluggish wicket in the competition. The average batting first score has been a mere 137, and RCB’s total of 138 almost turned out to be a match-winning score in the Eliminator on Monday. In fact, in nine games at the venue this season, only thrice have teams managed to score over 150 batting first. And incidentally the highest total belongs to the Knight Riders, who posted 171/4 against the Royals in their final group game. All evidence points towards Wednesday’s encounter, too, being a low-scoring one.
Now, both spinners and pacers have been hard to get away at the venue, but it is the pacers who have taken a lion’s share of the wickets. Of the 108 wickets to have fallen in Sharjah this season, a staggering 72 of them have been taken by the quicker bowlers. The ball tends to stick when banged on a good length, and hence that coupled with inconsistent bounce makes life difficult for the batters.
That being said, KKR are a different breed, and they rely on their spinners. While the KKR seamers, in Sharjah, have taken 14 wickets at an ER of almost 7, the spinners have taken 8 wickets at a stunning ER of 5.2. It was their spinners who did the damage in the Eliminator too, with their talisman Sunil Narine bagging a flawless four-wicket haul. Expect both teams to back their strengths - DC pace and KKR spin.
We have picked a side with a strong bowling attack, one that has a good mix of world-class seamers and spinners. But remember, while you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
Look no further than ‘The Man, The Myth, The Legend’, Sunil Narine. The West Indian, heading into the playoffs, had played a big hand in KKR’s turnaround, but made Sharjah his own in the Eliminator. He not only took 4 wickets with the ball, but also won the game for KKR with the bat through a stunning cameo. With his confidence peaking, it is a no-brainer to back Narine as the skipper.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Narine to score 18-26 runs and take 2-3 wickets against DC.
We’ve talked about Narine, but it would be criminal to not address his partner Varun Chakravarthy, who has been KKR’s MVP for two seasons in a row now. Varun has not put a foot wrong all season, and was once again exceptional against RCB in the Eliminator, where he conceded just 20 runs off his 4 overs. On a two-paced wicket like Sharjah, the mystery spinner will be an absolute menace.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Chakravarthy to pick between 0-1 wickets.
DC have plenty of difference-makers in their side, but no one is quite as explosive or destrucitve as Prithvi Shaw. The youngster, after a dull start to the second leg, found form in his previous two matches and absolutely flayed the CSK bowlers in Qualifier 1, where he struck 60 off just 34 balls. Shaw already has a fifty to his name against KKR this season, so he will undoubtedly be one of the players to watch out for.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Shaw to score between 32-48 runs.
Shaw was exceptional in Qualifier 1, but another DC batter who was almost as good was Shimron Hetmyer. The West Indian is in the midst of a very impactful season, and he struck an almost match-turning 24-ball 37 against CSK. He is someone who likes batting against spin, so Hetmyer could very well be DC’s man to take down the KKR spin twins.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Hetmyer to score between 26-40 runs.
Match-up to watch out for
Lockie Ferguson has dismissed Shikhar Dhawan three times in 31 balls, and has thus far had the edge over the veteran. DC are a top-heavy side, so KKR would be banking on their talisman to knock Dhawan over inside the first six overs.
KKR: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
DC: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Tom Curran, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje