For all the hooplah around an ideal team combination, impact players, overseas stars in a side, it is momentum that has emerged as a key aspect in deciding the outcome of T20 leagues.
Both Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals will be eyeing to build on their victory in their previous tie to gain some ‘’momentum’’. For Kings, their victory over Mumbai was a cakewalk winning with 8 balls and as many wickets in hands whereas Delhi made it tough for themselves by taking the battle to the super over.
Delhi will have their task cut out in Mohali which has been one of the least productive grounds for them. They last tasted success in Mohali 9 years ago, when they had the quartet of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, AB de Villiers and Tillekaratne Dilshan.
Last year, Delhi played their opening game in Mohali and their campaign was derailed before it could be put on track by KL Rahul’s 14-ball fifty.
Considering only the grounds that have hosted over 15 IPL games from the 2016 season, Mohali has an average run rate of 8.33 - the highest among all venues and marginally ahead of the Chinnaswamy Stadium, 8.32.
The PCA Stadium also has the lowest dot ball percentage in the same time period - 34.0%.
All these numbers indicate that it is not the easiest of grounds for the bowlers to curb the batsmen. Especially for spinners who have found little help from the 22-yard strip here.
No Amit Mishra
Delhi’s experienced campaigner, Amit Mishra has been one of their most inconsistent performers since being bought back by Delhi in the 2018 IPL auction. Still a force while playing on the more suitable low and slow tracks of Kotla, Mishra has been largely ineffective while playing away. The franchise themselves have opted not to field him while competing away as he played only 3 of the franchise’s 8 away games so far since last season.
On top of that, The PCA Stadium has been a nemesis for the leg-spinner with only 2 wickets to his name in 6 games.
In his last outing at the venue, Mishra was struck all over the ground for 46 runs in his 4 overs.
Only 5 bowling options for Punjab
As well as Punjab did in their previous game, their strategy to go with only 5 bowling options may not work against Delhi. Punjab came up against Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard in the middle overs, both known to be slow during the mid phase of the innings (strike-rate of 115 and 127 respectively).
Moreover, Delhi’s batting unit excels over Mumbai’s in terms of scoring in the middle phase. The strike-rate might only be marginally better but there is an appreciable difference between the batting average that eventually allows Delhi to score at a strike-rate of 179 at the death. Mumbai’s strike-rate in the death is 143.
A more attacking and potent batting line-up of Delhi Capitals that put Kolkata’s bowling attack under pressure just few days ago might ponder Punjab to have an extra bowling option.
Given the contrasting nature of Delhi and Mohali track, the Capitals might want to replace Amit Mishra with a fast bowler. Also, Azar Patel’s experience of playing with Kings XI Punjab for 5 years might tempt the visitors to welcome him back into the XI to replace Hanuma Vihari at six.
Kings XI Punjab
Punjab went in against Mumbai with the combination of 6 batsmen and 5 bowlers. As discussed above, it might not be the ideal composition against Delhi. They need an all-rounder with Moises Henriques their best bet but bringing him in the XI will require a lot of tinkering with the side that has recently tasted success against Mumbai.
Another option to add more teeth to their bowling is to bring Mujeeb back in the squad to replace Murugan Ashwin. Ashwin did well against Mumbai but Delhi struck leggies at a strike-rate of 147 in the previous IPL. In case Mike Hesson goes with the ‘horses for courses’ strategy, Ankit Rajput came come in place of either AJ Tye or Hardus Viljoen.
Chris Morris v Chris Gayle:
Chris Gayle was in stupendous form while facing England in the Caribbean and has carried the golden touch to IPL. But he will be facing namesake, Chris Morris who has had an upper hand over him when the two have come up against each other.
The Capitals will certainly be aware of the fact and will rely on Morris to send the Jamaican opener back to the hut. Needless to say, it will be a battle that holds the potential to decide the outcome of the match.