Players of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate fall of a wicket during their IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on Monday. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Delhi Capitals will seek a redemption with a victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in their electrifying Qualifier 2 of the IPL in Sharjah on Wednesday.
With stakes being high, it promises to be an intriguing clash for both the teams who are fancying their chances of laying down their hands on the glittering trophy.
Delhi spurned a golden chance to directly book a spot in the final of the tournament after their loss against Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier.
But they still have a chance to atone for their mistakes by beating Kolkata and book the title showdown with Chennai, who are just one win away from fourth title.
Delhi capped their round robin campaign on the top of the table with 20 points but were defeated by Chennai in the Qualifier 1.
They have been in stellar form right from the beginning and maintained their stranglehold on the top of the table.
They lost just two out of the six matches in the UAE leg of the IPL in the qualifying round.
Delhi were favorites to win the title before being defeated by Chennai in the first qualifier. The loss against Chennai is a wake-up call for them.
Despite having one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, Delhi failed to defend a challenging total of 172.
Their pace attack features the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Avesh Khan.
Nortje and Rabada can clock the speed of 140km/hr on regular basis and sometimes breach 150km/hr mark as well.
Rabada and Nortje are most ferocious pace duo in the contemporary cricket and they are well assisted by Khan, who complements them very well.
Khan’s bowling has been vey impressive as he has been among the wickets in almost all the matches. Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is likely to return to the squad.
Stoinis had injured himself in the first match of the UAE leg of the IPL and was ruled out of the remaining matches of the group stage.
His return will give a selection headache to the team management.
Delhi’s only concern can be Rabada, who has not picked up any wicket in the last five matches.
He has gone wicketless, conceding 100 plus runs in a combined 20 overs put together. Khan was also pretty expensive in the last match.
Rabada may have to make way for Stoinis. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel are likely to take care of the spin department.
They can choke the runs with crafty spin and give important breakthroughs in the middle. Ashwin was also expensive and did not bowl his full quota of over.
Batting looks pretty strong. Shikhar Dhawan is in hot form and if he gives a good platform, they have good depth to capitalise on it. Dhawan has already scored 500 plus runs in the tournament.
The presence of Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Shimron Hetmyer makes the middle-order very formidable while Ashwin and Stoinis, if he plays, can hit big shots down the order.
Ashwin had shared a match-winning stand with Iyer against Mumbai in Sharjah.
He tonked Krunal Pandya for a six in his 21-ball 20 in the last over to take Delhi over the line in style.
Meanwhile, Kolkata will look to extend their winning streak and march towards their third title.
They have shown a great resurgence and played as a unit.
Despite not having a star-studded line-up, Kolkata have made it to the knockout stages. They have won five out of their last seven matches.
Kolkata will have a psychological advantage going into the match as they had defeated Delhi in their previous meeting to end the latter’s winning streak at the same venue.
Kolkata are brimming with confidence after their victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator of the IPL the other day.
Sunil Narine will be the player to look for. He took four wickets and played a 15-ball 25 run cameo to tilt the game in Kolkata’s favour.
Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill are in good touch and have been giving a good start to their team. If they can set the tone, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine can propel the score to a fighting total.
Varun Chakravarty and Shakib Ali can be effective and choke the flow of runs on the Sharjah turf, compelling the batsmen to play reckless shots.
Lockie Ferguson and Shivam Mavi are more effective in the death overs.
Venaktesh Iyer and Shubman Gill shared a record opening partnership for the first wicket before Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) survived a late Delhi Capital scare to set up title showdown with Chennai in Sharjah on Wednesday.
Delhi Capitals will look to extend the winning momentum and inch closer to a play-ff berth with a victory against a resilient Rajasthan Royals.
Sunil Narine shone with bat and ball as Kolkata Knight Riders boosted their play-off hopes with a three-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) registered a comfortable nine-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their first match of the UAE-leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Boosted after their brilliant performance in the 10-wicket win over arch-rivals India on Sunday, Pakistan were this time led by fast bowler Haris Rauf who finished with 4-22.
Aiden Markram smashed 51 to lead South Africa's chase of 144 in an unbeaten 83-run third-wicket stand with Rassie van der Dussen (43) to achieve their target with 10 balls to spare in the Super 12 contest.
Michael Owen, the former Liverpool and England football star, dreams of winning the Dubai World Cup in his post-retirement avatar as a racehorse breeder and owner.
The focus of the cross country rallying world is on the UAE again in the final countdown to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, as a major operation to stage the 30th edition of the spectacular event enters its final stages.