While Delhi clinched a win from the jaws of defeat against CSK, KXIP got themselves off the bottom of the table with two impressive wins to put their tournament back on track. However, this game would be crucial for both, as Delhi aims to seal their spot at the top with Punjab eyeing a third win.
Kings XI Punjab - W W L L L
The sleeping Kings are finally awake, on the back of not one but two impressive display against two of the in-form teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. If there was one common pattern between both their games, apart from it going till the last ball, it was that their batting unit finally showed signs of progress, with Chris Gayle at No.3. Alongside that, their bowling too has improved drastically, with Arshdeep Singh giving them the ‘X factor’ in the powerplay with his bowling. Meanwhile, KL Rahul has picked off from where he left last season, breaching the 500-run mark for the third consecutive year, the first Indian player to achieve that feat. So in hindsight, Delhi needs to up their performance if they stand a chance of winning against the red-hot Punjab side.
Delhi Capitals - W W L W W
Four wins out of five, shouldn’t that be enough to give a clear picture of Delhi’s season thus far? But more importantly, Delhi have had at least six different match-winners this season, showcasing their depth in both bowling and batting department. While Shaw played a blinder of an innings earlier in the tournament, Iyer and Pant picked off from where they left with Dhawan joining late in the party. Alongside the all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and now Axar Patel, Delhi really have a brilliant chance of capturing the IPL trophy but hold your horses. First, they need to stop the roller-coasting Punjab side, who would walk in fresh from their twin wins.
Kings XI Punjab - KL Rahul
Can we look elsewhere and not commit a sin while picking up Kings XI Punjab’s best batsman? No, I guess we will have to continue to back the stats and trust the process, such has been this man’s form in the season, with 525 runs in nine innings, at an average of 75, which is mind-boggling high for an opener and that in T20s. But more importantly, his approach has changed since the public backlash for his comments on the 120 strike-rate, with the right-hander taking more responsibility at the top of the order to increase the scoring rate. Yesterday was an example of it, in conditions which are tougher for the new man, Rahul scored a scintillating 51-ball 77, at a strike-rate of 150.98, going against one of the best T20 bowlers - Jasprit Bumrah. Against Delhi, he would once again be crucial to their chances, given that their middle-order is still fragile with Glenn Maxwell terribly out of form.
Delhi Capitals - Shikhar Dhawan
Two openers who are right in contention for a place in the Indian T20 setup, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul got themselves off to the best runs, going into the end stages of the IPL. While KL has scored over 500, Dhawan has scored 359 runs in nine innings, at an average of 51.28, with a match-winning unbeaten 1010 against Chennai Super Kings earlier in the weekend. On top of that, Dhawan has been in a purple-patch lately, having scored twin half-centuries before converting his third 50 to a hundred. The last time these two sides faced, the southpaw didn’t make any sort of impact, with Marcus Stoinis scoring the runs for the Delhi side, who were later rescued by Kagiso Rabada.
Kings XI Punjab - Mohammed Shami
Red-hot from his form against Mumbai Indians, Shami is a man-on-a-serious-mission. Are we talking about statistics only here? Then, in that case, the right-arm seamer has picked up 14 wickets, just one behind Jasprit Bumrah who has picked up 15 wickets. In terms of average, he’s picked up his wickets at 21.28 and strikes it at 14.8, so in short, he’s the go-to-bowler for KL Rahul, whose team is on a high with two successive wins. Against Delhi’s top-order last time around, Shami struck immediately to reduce them.
Delhi Capitals - Kagiso Rabada
What Mohammed Shami is to Kings XI Punjab, Kagiso Rabada is to the IPL, with 19 wickets thus far in the tournament. Some even claim that he’s a runaway winner of the purple cap and would have no competition going into the back end of the tournament. I agree he’s been excellent but it’s not just this season, last time too he was equally impressive, with only Tahir having more wickets than him, talk about a Proteas force. This season, he’s been the go-to for Shreyas Iyer whenever the team needs a wicket and he will be key against KXIP’s openers who are in prime form.
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
When to Watch: Oct 20, 7.30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)