Published On: Sun, Apr 22nd, 2018

Daredevils seek to change fortunes at home

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It was meant to be a grand homecoming for Gautam Gambhir and, along with that, a change in Delhi Daredevils’ fortunes when the season was starting. Five games down, and they are back to where they were when Gambhir last played for Daredevils. Seated rock-bottom on the points table, and with the team running out of chances for recovery, they now have to face a team from the other end of the table. It could be a good thing. A win against Kings XI Punjab could just be the catalyst Daredevils need to reboot their season.

By no means will it be easy, though. In Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, Kings XI have found the season’s most-prolific opening pair, and with the presence of Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Aaron Finch in the middle order, the carnage is not expected to stop. Under team mentor Virender Sehwag, Kings XI have decided to adopt his hit-often-hit-hard mode of play, but that’s only hiding their deficiencies with the ball.

The Indian bowlers in Kings XI’s ranks have gone for over 8.50 per over, and even their wicket-taking options – Andrew Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rahman – have been ineffective at times. They have conceded 178 or more in their last three games, and if it wasn’t for Gayle’s magic over the past week, Kings XI could very well have been languishing in the bottom half of the table.

What’s going Daredevils’ way, though, is their batting. Apart from the collapse against Kolkata Knight Riders, their batting has held its ground. Rishabh Pant and Jason Roy have displayed sparks of brilliance already, and Glenn Maxwell may just have something to prove against the franchise that did not retain him. Gambhir, however, needs to do better than his strike rate of 108 this season, while Chris Morris must finally turn up this season. They have got plenty of matchwinners, and at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Daredevils may just thrive after spending the first fortnight of the IPL playing away from home.

The likely XIs

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem/Jayant Yadav, 10 Harshal Patel, 11 Trent Boult

Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul (wk), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Karun Nair, 5 Aaron Finch, 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Mujeeb ur Rahman, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Barinder Sran, 11 Mohit Sharma/Ankit Rajpoot

What happened in the previous contest

Rahul smashed the fastest fifty (off 14 balls) in IPL history to flatten Daredevils’ target of 167 when they met earlier this season in Mohali. Nair struck a brisk 33-ball 50 as well to follow up on Rahul’s onslaught and trumped Gambhir’s half-century. That match was the only time Chris Morris efficiently wielded his bat this season.

Strategy punt

How about give Jayant Yadav a go? He’s got a C-grade contract with BCCI anyway, and could get a look-in instead of Shahbaz Nadeem in the Daredevils XI. Against bowlers off all kinds, Gayle’s strike rate (121.1) against right-arm offspin is the lowest, and he finds a boundary only once every 5.6 deliveries. Delhi should also give Morris the new ball. In six games, he has dismissed Gayle on three occasions.

Stats that matter

  • Rishabh Pant has not only made at least 20 in every game, he has also been scoring at breakneck pace. His strike rate bloats as his innings progresses, scoring at 181.1 between deliveries 11 and 20, and at a rate of 272.2 after facing over 30 balls. Pant’s overall strike rate in Delhi is 184.7 and he averages over 40.

  • After facing 47 balls against pace, all Gambhir has been able to score is 38 runs this season. In four innings, he has fallen to pace on three occasions.

  • Former Kings XI captain Glenn Maxwell loves facing current Kings XI captain R Ashwin. Ashwin has bowled 49 deliveries to Maxwell, and has been hit for 107 runs at a strike rate of 218.4. Maxwell hits a boundary off Ashwin every 2.9 deliveries.

  • After six games at the Kotla, Gayle averages 74.5. He has gone past 30 on four occasions, and strikes at 163.7 at the ground.

  • Kings XI’s openers have made 55.4% of the team’s runs this season, the highest among all teams.

Fantasy picks

Back the left-handers in Delhi. Pant and Gambhir are great choices for the Kotla surface, while Delhi is one of Gayle’s most-successful batting venues. It could be a painful evening for bowlers from both teams.

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