Andre Russell and Pat Cummins’ individual brilliance with the bat won Kolkata Knight Riders their last two matches against Punjab Kings and Mumbai Indians, respectively. No wonder they sit pretty atop the standings with three wins from four matches.
Shreyas Iyer’s positive intent seems to reflect on the team’s onfield performance. On Sunday they meet Delhi Capitals, who are struggling with one victory from three matches, at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. For Shreyas, it will be an opportunity to prove a point or two against his former franchise.
Shreyas was the Capitals’ leader before Rishabh Pant took over. Now he’s back as captain of KKR and has been on a high with his attacking gameplan in this IPL. He has a bowling attack which can be intimidating and penetrating. If the batting continues to click in this fashion, KKR can be confident of making the playoffs.
Umesh Yadav has been a revelation in the game’s shortest format this time while Rasikh Salam was impressive in his first match. With Cummins and the format’s two finest spinners in their line-up, KKR can hope to strangle any batting line-up. Thanks to their mystery spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, they have the best middle-overs (7-16) economy rate (5.52) in this tournament.
Their problem has been their opening duo. While Venkatesh Iyer was among runs in their last match, if a tad scratchy, Ajinkya Rahane’s poor string of scores has made their top order vulnerable. Rahane averages only 18 at a strike rate of 109.09 in the first four games, and his strike rate drops further to 101.85 inside the Powerplay.
Once Aaron Finch is available, KKR will need to juggle their foreigners’ slots to fit the Australian limited over captain in their XI. That should provide some momentum at the top.
If Shreyas treats this as a grudge match, Kuldeep Yadav could also harbour similar sentiments. The left-arm wrist spinner failed to get a single game at KKR last season, but has rejuvenated himself at Capitals. And if you believe Axar Patel, it’s got to do with the security that Ricky Ponting gave him going into this season.
The Capitals are not short of precious resources. In Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, David Warner and Rovman Powell they have a strong line-up. They had a tough time against the Lucknow Super Giants’ spinners in the last game, losing 3 for 47 in the middle overs. How they fare against the KKR spin duo could decide the contest.
Pant, too, struggled against the Lucknow spinners and thus it will be crucial that Warner or Shaw bat deep into the innings.
KKR enjoy a 16-12 advantage against the Capitals. It has been a close contest since 2018, with Capitals winning five and KKR winning on four occasions.