Sharjah: Eyeing a maiden IPL title, the fancied Delhi Capitals (DC) will face another litmus test in the form of a Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) here Wednesday. The job on hand is definitely tough for DC as the Knights are brimming with confidence after beating RCB in the ‘Eliminator’, Monday. In fact, KKR have had an amazing run in the UAE leg of the tournament winning six of the eight matches they have played.
DC failed in their first big test when they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the first Qualifier. Another defeat will mean the end of the road for the team led by India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant.
If the emphasis is on momentum and peaking at the right time then KKR will definitely fancy their chances in their next outing. In the T20 format, form matters on the day and KKR at present are indeed a ‘hot’ team, notwithstanding their opponents’ resources and depth.
DC, who topped the league stage with 10 wins for a total of 20 points, are well aware of the task that awaits them.
Since Australian great Ricky Ponting took over as their coach, DC have grown from strength to strength. They finished second runners-up in the 2019 edition before reaching the summit clash last year. This year there aim is to do one better and win the title.
DC have one of the most formidable batting and bowling line-ups. They have experienced campaigners like Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shreyas Iyer and not to forget Pant. The bowling department is equally well-balanced with the likes of pacers Kagiso Rabada (2020 purple cap winner) and Anrich Nortje, and Axar Patel. They also have the youthful exuberance of Avesh Khan who has taken 23 wickets so far in this season.
DC have posted five wins in the UAE leg of the tournament. However, one of their defeats has come against KKR. So it will be a great opportunity for them to exact revenge than in the IPL playoffs.
It is easier said than done though, with Morgan’s side enjoying a massive reversal of fortunes in the Gulf.
On a pitch offering turn, KKR’s spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy (16 wickets) and Sunil Narine, who is on a high after his superb all-round performance against RCB, will look to test the formidable Delhi batting line-up.
Batting hasn’t been KKR’s biggest strength this season and DC will look to capitalise on that. Up against a potent bowling attack, the likes of Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi (team’s top-scorer this season with 393 runs) and Morgan himself will need to rise to the occasion if KKR is to make the final.
Morgan however, is not worried about the batting department. “When it comes off (with our batting order), it looks quite deep,” he said after the game against RCB.
Asked if it will be an advantage to play in Sharjah again against DC, Morgan said, “For us, it is a matter of coming back and adjusting. We are looking forward to it. We will relish the challenge.”
Ominous words indeed.