Having suffered a shock upset at the hands of Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Capitals (DC) will be looking to return to winning ways when they face Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 42nd match of IPL 2020 at Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Despite the loss to Punjab, Delhi are comfortably placed at the second position in the points table, with 14 points from 10 games. KKR, on the other hand, had a disastrous outing against Royal Challengers Bangalore, as Mohammed Siraj’s pace bowling blew their batting away.
Having garnered 10 points from five matches, KKR are at fourth spot in the points table. They are very much in the running for a play-offs berth, but with Hyderabad and Punjab breathing down their neck, they cannot afford to be lax.
As DC and KKR take on each other on Saturday, here are three player battles to watch out for.
#1. Shikhar Dhawan vs Lockie Ferguson
After a middling start to the tournament, DC opener Shikhar Dhawan’s fortunes in IPL 2020 have sky-rocketed. The left-hander’s last four knocks in the tournament read 69 not out, 57, 101 not out, and 106 not out. Overall, Dhawan has amassed 465 runs in 10 games at an average of 66.42 and a strike rate of just under 150.
Sometimes, numbers do tell a rather striking story, and the same has been the case with Dhawan in IPL 2020. Every time he has gone in to bat in the last few matches, he has tried to dominate, and has been exceptionally successful; although luck played a big factor in his hundred against Chennai.
For KKR, Lockie Ferguson’s addition to the playing eleven has made a massive difference. He was nearly unplayable in the win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, and bowled some brilliant yorkers. Ferguson also delivered one of the best Super Overs to turn the contest against SRH in KKR’s favour.
Even in the last game, where KKR had nothing to bowl at, Ferguson made an impression by unsettling Aaron Finch with his pace. Dhawan has been troubled by extreme pace in the past. But, given the form he is in, he should be confident of standing up to the Ferguson challenge.
#2. Eoin Morgan vs Ravichandran Ashwin
Even as KKR’s batting has gone off the boil, their skipper Eoin Morgan has tried his very best to kept things intact. In the disastrous batting effort against RCB, Morgan was the sole saving grace to an extent, with a defiant 30.
Throughout the IPL, even when he was not the KKR skipper, Morgan has come in and played the kind of cameos that were the need of the hour. From 10 matches, he has 278 runs to his credit at a strike rate of 125.79, reasonable returns when one considers his batting position. Morgan has also effectively used the reverse sweep to unsettle spinners.
Ravichandran Ashwin is not someone who will be easily distracted by such unconventional batting tactics. He is adept at reading the minds of the batsmen, and can set them up accordingly. With his guile and experience, Ashwin has claimed eight wickets in as many matches.
What has been remarkable about Ashwin in IPL 2020, is that he has been prepared to risk being hit to buy wickets. Being naturally aggressive, Morgan would look to go after Ashwin. It will be tough for the left-hander as the ball will be spinning away from him. The KKR captain would have to come up with something exceptional.
#3. Rishabh Pant vs Varun Chakravarthy
While Rishabh Pant was away with injury, Delhi clearly missed his presence out in the middle, as he was constantly getting crucial 20s and 30s. Although Pant wasn’t going on an all out attack, he was doing enough to give Delhi the push in the middle and death overs.
In seven matches, Pant has totaled a reasonable 190 runs at a strike rate of 125. Delhi would obviously want Pant to lift his strike rate, but they would be pleased with his consistency, and will want him to continue the good work.
Pant likes taking on spinners, and he would look to attack Varun Chakravarthy too. Chakravarthy has done quite well for KKR, taking over from Sunil Narine as the team’s lead spinner. With his variations, Chakravarthy has foxed big names like David Warner and MS Dhoni.
In comparison, Pant seems like a small fish. But, considering the crucial role the latter plays in the middle overs, Pant’s wicket will be of prime importance for KKR. It is no secret that spinners can coax Pant into playing false strokes. Chakravarthy too must look to exploit this weakness in Pant’s batting.