Delhi Capitals' Shikhar Dhawan bats during a practice session. Courtsey: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Delhi Capitals (DC) will look to extend their winning juggernaut as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) aim to bounce back when they meet in a mouth-watering clash at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Both Delhi and Chennai are engaged in the top of the table duel from the beginning, outdoing each other in every match.
Chennai ended the Kolkata’s winning streak with a thrilling victory to regain the top spot. Kolkata have shown a remarkable resurgence since arriving in the UAE.
They notched up two victories against the top teams - Mumbai Indians and Riyal Challengers Bangalore - in a row before going down to the table-toppers Chennai in a nail-biting last-ball finish.
Riding on a late-blitz by Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana after a wobble by the middle-order, Kolkata posted a fighting total of 171 against Chennai.
Mind it, Chennai did not have the same quality of pacers as Delhi have. Delhi’s quicks are notorious for their raw pace as both Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada clock a speed of 140km/hr regularly, which unsettle the batsmen from the beginning.
So fearsome is Delhi attack, that they bowled out Rajasthan Royals for a paltry 121, after setting a target of 154.
Only Sanju Samson and Mahipal Lomror could manage to reach a double-figure mark against Delhi. Samson waged the lone battle with a fighting 70. If Samson’s and Lomror’s scores are taken away from that total the remaining eight batsmen scored 30 runs combined together.
In their opening match against a beleaguered Sunrisers Hyderabad, both Rabada and Nortje wreaked a havoc, sharing five wickets between them, conceding only 49 runs in their combined eight overs.
They have a good depth in batting as Shikhar Dhawan, Rishab Pant and Prithvi Shaw are in good touch while Shreyas Iyer announced his return to form with an unbeaten 41-ball 47.
Dhawan is the highest scorer in the tourney as he has scored 430 runs with the help of three fifties in 10 matches.
Kolkata also have put up a resilient performance to reignite their campaign with a dominant show in all their matches in the UAE.
Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarty and West Indian Sunil Narine have troubled the batsmen throughout. Kolkata bundled out Bangalore for modest 92 as Chakravarty took three wickets.
Their pace battery is spearheaded by Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell while Prasidh Krishna plays a perfect foil to the duo.
In batting, Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer have been in a good knack of form. Iyer scored unbeaten 47 and 53 against Bangalore and Mumbai respectively to set the tone.
The presence of Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi and Arnold makes the middle-order quite impressive while Narine can play a few big shots in the end. He has also opened the innings for Kolkata on a few occasions in the last edition.
In the other match of the day in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai Indians will look to end their losing streak against Punjab Kings.
Mumbai have witnessed a slump in the form as they have slipped to the seventh spot in the eight-team league with three losses on a trot.
They lost their first match against Chennai and were beaten by Kolkata before Bangalore mauled them by 54 runs in the third game.
The return of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya to the fold did not bring any changes in their performance and fortune. They have lost all their matches after getting off to a flying start.
If Mumbai have to keep their play-off hopes, it is the high time they should start converting their efforts into results.
While Punjab have had a mixed fortune but they put up a splendid bowling performance to remain in hunt for a play-off berth with a victory over Hyderabad.
Punjab defended the lowest total of the season on a batting-friendly Sharjah turf. They will look to boost their chances by heaping more misery on Mumbai, who are yet looking for an elusive win in the UAE leg of the tournament.
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Shaheen Afridi struck the first blow with an express delivery that swung in to trap Rohit Sharma lbw for a first ball duck and the bowler celebrated with his trademark open-arm gesture.