Delhi Capitals brought their A-game to the fore at the Sharjah Cricket Ground, with a stunning all-round performance that left Rajasthan Royals playing catch-up throughout the game. However, Delhi will be concerned about Rishabh Pant’s form as the southpaw looked completely off-colour.
You need extra pace in Sharjah
The Sharjah Cricket Ground has been a graveyard of sorts for the bowlers this IPL, where even the mishits have been going for sixes and the room for error being cramped to a major extent. But as Anrich Nortje showed the other day against Kolkata Knight Riders, there is possibly room for experimenting with express pace bowlers who make for a solid squad at the venue. Jofra Archer, and to an extent Varun Aaron, exploited the same quite successfully. They were helped by the cause that Dhawan was dismissed a bit early, ensuring Shreyas Iyer at the crease earlier than expected and staying true to the match-up, he struggled against back of length delivery. With Prithvi Shaw struggling to counter the threat and then Nortje setting the stage alight, the template might be set for the future games where under 200 scores, which was a dream at Sharjah, might become a norm.
Behind square fielding goes for a transformation in Sharjah
For the major part of their fielding, Steve Smith employed a deep point, with two backward fielders guarding the region. This is specially done because of the fact that you need protection between cover and point with a longer boundary at mid-wicket and long-on rendering maximum help for the bowlers. Rajasthan Royals focused on that aspect right from the word go, with slip fielder adding a varied balance to the plan. If the ball is really short outside off, it would take a leading-edge and ensure that if the fielders at third man and fine leg are inside the circle, you will see a downturn pretty easy. It might not be the case in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but you have got to have a plan in a small ground, otherwise, you will be shredded just like Royal Challengers Bangalore year after year.
One of the cleanest hitters of a cricket ball in the entire country, Rishabh Pant’s ability is far more tangible than what people on Twitter blame him for. He might play one shot too many multiple times but when he does, he does it better than most people. In the IPL that is more prevalent simply because of the fact that he has a clear role defined by the franchise, unlike when he plays for India. However, in the ongoing edition of the tournament, Pant seems far distant from his usual avatar, looking like a desolate character and bereft of oomph. Not least because of the way of his dismissal, his six-hitting abilities have gone down drastically, with him struggling to find proper connection with the ball. Is it a problem for Delhi? Definitely, it is because their next eight matches will be played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with only one game in Sharjah, so mistime might prove to be a problem for them in those Emirates.
Back your players, see the result
There are possibly no teams who react to a bad season more than Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab. Their tendency to go for an overhaul have robbed them off many good players who could have a star name for them. Delhi Capitals, from the looks of it, provide a more relaxed atmosphere to their players and Marcus Stoinis emerged as a fine example. The same Stoinis, who was a bit and pieces cricketer in Royal Challengers Bangalore and looked like a bad purchase, took his game to another level with the Capitals as his impact is pretty visible to the naked eye. With the bat, Stoinis is a gun player now, he is bowling in the middle and death with equal aplomb and his fielding has been terrific so far. Someone like Shimron Hetmyer who looked confused and lost last year at RCB delivered on the promise after a long backing and that says something about the franchise.