Game 31 of this season’s IPL sees two teams who have surprised everybody take each other on in what promises to be a very interesting encounter. Nobody knew what the season would hold for Gujarat, taking part in their first ever IPL but after 8 games they are sitting pretty at the top of the table with 6 wins to their name. Delhi, complete outsiders at the start of the tournament, have won 4 of their 6 games against all odds and sit 3rd on the log with one eye on a play-off spot.
To Win Match
Gujarat Lions 2/3 | Draw 35/1 | Delhi Daredevils 5/4
Gujarat have a top order that literally goes from ball one. Whether it be Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith or McCullum and Aaron Finch, they take on the bowling, and it is usually successful. In their eight games so far the lowest powerplay total they have amassed is 42 and they average 60 runs in the first six overs of their innings. Only one of their batsmen, Suresh Raina, ranks in the top 10 in terms of runs scored in the tournament as he usually carries on the attack after one of the openers is out.
Five of Gujarat’s batsmen have scored over 150 runs in the tournament so far and they are by far the most consistent side with willow in hand, barring their latest game where they were taken apart for 131 by the Kings XI Punjab, their lowest total. Another thing to take into account is the fact that five of Gujarat’s six victories have come after batting second which has been the trend among all teams this season.
With the ball, Gujarat’s bowlers have been very good. The highest total they have had to chase was the 195 against Pune, a game in which Steven Smith got a cracking century, which they ended up chasing down. Dwayne Bravo has been excellent, taking 10 wickets at an average 28.6 and has led the attack with aplomb.
Backing him up excellently has been Dhawal Kulkarni, whose 7 wickets have come at an average of just under 20 and an economy rate of under 7. The ageless Pravin Tambe has once again bowled well, taking 5 wickets, the same amount as Ravindra Jadeja. The bowlers will be looking to take advantage of a Delhi top order that can be quite tentative at the start of an innings.
Delhi Daredevils have a big problem at the top of the order. They have not had an opening partnership of more than 24 and whether it be Quinton De Kock with Shreyas Iyer or Sanju Samson, one of them just always seems to be dismissed early. De Kock scored the highest total of the tournament, an excellent 108 against, in fairness, the weakest bowling attack in the tournament (Bangalore), but has only scored 91 from his other five knocks. He needs to be more consistent if Delhi are going to keep this run going.
JP Duminy seems to have found some good form and his 104 runs in the tournament have come at an average of 104 after only being dismissed once in his 3 innings. Sam Billings, the England International, came into the side for Duminy (who had taken ill) in their latest fixture against Kolkata and his swashbuckling 54 went a long way in ensuring the win for Delhi. This gives them an interesting dilemma as do they keep Billings or will Duminy come back in for this game?
Delhi’s bowling is heavily dependent on the spin of Amit Mishra, who picked up the tournament’s best bowling figures (4-11) against Punjab earlier in the tournament. He has bowled with good accuracy and spins the ball well both ways. Imran Tahir, another legspinner has picked up three wickets in his two games and has been very economical, going at under seven an over. Zaheer Khan has picked up six wickets, but more needs to come from him against the stronger batting line-ups in the tournament.
Khan has been quite expensive so far and will be looking to keep things tight in the powerplay against Gujarat. Chris Morris has been Delhi’s best fast bowler, as well as helping out with the bat, and has gone at less than seven an over this season. He will need to be extremely consistent and accurate in order to contain the top order of Gujarat who will know that Morris can lose his line and length when batsmen do go after him. Another player to make an impact for Delhi is Carlos Brathwaite, the big hitting West Indian all-rounder whose strike rate with the bat is 220, has chipped in with useful contributions with the ball.
Verdict: Gujarat to get the highest first six over score at 2/3
With Finch, Mccullum, Smith and Raina at the top of the order, Gujarat will be looking to take full advantage of the Powerplay. Zaheer Khan has been slightly expensive in his first few overs this season and Gujarat will be looking to take him on. Delhi also lose wickets early on a regular basis when batting and this could see them having to compensate in the first 6 overs which should see Gujarat, who average 60 in the first 6 overs, take this particular market with ease.