Delhi Capitals’ players attend a training session ahead of their match against Kings XI Punjab. Courtesy: Delhi Capitals twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Giant-killers Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to keep their play-off hopes alive with a victory over a rampant Delhi Capitals in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Tuesday.
Punjab rose from the bottom of the table for the first time and moved to the sixth spot in the eight-team league after a gritty victory over Mumbai Indians.
A resolute Punjab held their nerves to beat Mumbai in the second Super Over after the first Super Over failed to decide the fate of the match.
Punjab are tied at six points with Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals and need to win all their remaining games.
The victory will do a world of good to Punjab as it will boost their confidence. Punjab have lost many close encounters as they choked under pressure at the crunch situation.
But with the victory over Mumbai, they seem have ended the jinx of choking under pressure. Since the return of West Indian batsman Chris Gayle into the fold, Punjab have won their second consecutive match.
In the second Super Over against Mumbai, Punjab needed 12 runs. Gaye hit a six off the first ball and tilted the games towards Punjab before Mayank Agarwal smashed two boundaries to seal a victory.
Against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) also, Gayle had smashed a fifty and shared an 85-run stand with Rahul to steer them to victory before the last dramatic over.
However, Punjab seem to have gotten their faltering campaign back on the track as their batting has been bolstered by the inclusion of Gayle.
Punjab batting is their strength. Captain Rahul is in stupendous form and is sitting on the top of the highest scorers’ list, having amassed 525 runs with five fifties and one century.
He is followed by Agarwal, who has scored 393 runs in the tournament with one century and two fifties. And Gayle has further strengthened it. Pooran can hit bit shots down the order to spur the run rate. He scored a quick-fire12-ball 24.
In the bowling, Mohammad Shami is in great form as he did not let Mumbai score a paltry five runs in the first Super Over. He is well supported by Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh, who took the prize wickets of Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan.
Meanwhile, Delhi have been in great form and are at the top of the table with 14 points in their kitty. They have won seven out of the nine games and lost two, one of which went down to the wire and ended in Super Over.
Their bowling has been their strength with the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje ruling the roost.
Rabada is the highest wicket taker in the tournament with a whopping 19 scalps from nine games. His partner Nortje, bowled the fastest ball in the history of IPL against Bangalore. The pace duo with spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel can defend any total.
In batting, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane are in good touch with Axar, who can swing the bat down the order.
Delhi on Monday announced the signing of 27-year-old leg spinner Pravin Dubey as replacement for veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra for the remaining matches.
The Karnataka-based Dubey has played 14 domestic T20 matches for his state, and has 16 wickets to his name, with an economy rate of 6.87.
Mishra was ruled out the tournament after sustaining an injury to the ring finger of his bowling arm during Delhi Capitals’ match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Sharjah on October 3. The 37-year-old has undergone surgery and is recovering at the moment.
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