We preview Sunday’s Indian Premier League double-header.
Delhi beat Punjab on the back of opener Sam Billings’ brisk half-century and seamer Chris Morris’ three key wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla two weeks ago, but have since slipped to several defeats, leaving this return fixture evenly poised.
The reigning champions take on the twin title-holders in an intriguing close to the weekend’s fixtures, with the result likely to say a lot about the remainder of Hyderabad’s campaign, in particular.
KXIP v DD | Sunday, 30 April | Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium | 12:30
To Win Match
Kings XI 8/10 | Tie 35/1 | Daredevils 1/1
Kings XI Punjab
The home side have been boosted by the arrival of West Indian all-rounder Darren Sammy, who had been sidelined by injury for the tournament’s opening three weeks. Punjab, therefore, can comfortably forego the inadequacies of Australian Marcus Stoinis against Delhi.
This match will only be the second at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium this season, with Punjab eager to build on their solid winning record achieved at their adopted home venue – Indore’s Holkar Cricket Stadium – earlier this month.
South African batsman Hashim Amla, again, will need to shoulder plenty of responsibility. But captain Glenn Maxwell really needs more from his bowlers, particularly seamers Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma, who have largely struggled.
The Daredevils relied heavily on Proteas star Quinton de Kock, particularly against the Kings XI Punjab last season. Absent this year, he has finally been replaced by West Indian all-rounder Marlon Samuels, who might play in this key clash.
Genuine cohesion has been lacking for Delhi. The big contributions by captain Zaheer Khan, batsman Sanju Sansom and Morris have been overshadowed by the individual and collective shortfalls of others. Sunday will bring another chance to right these wrongs.
Calls for Morris to bat higher up the order and Englishman Sam Billings to secure a permanent opening berth, meanwhile, are entirely justified. Perhaps, too, the retention of South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada alongside – instead of – Australian counterpart Pat Cummins is invalid.
Verdict: Kings XI Punjab
The hosts should emerge victorious, provided their bowlers hold their shape through the closing overs, when Morris and company will chase anything and everything.
KKR vs RCB | Sunday, 30 April 2017 | Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium | 12:30
To Win Match
Sunrisers 9/10 | Tie 35/1 | Knight Riders 9/10 ?/?
The Sunrisers’ title defence started really well before faltering somewhat – and they will be acutely aware of the need to get back on track against opposition they lost to just over two weeks ago.
Blessed with the outstanding services of the cool, calm and collected Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they’ve also been buoyed by the extended stay of fellow seamer Mustafizur Rahman, whose return to Bangladesh has been delayed.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan’s problems against left-arm seamers, meanwhile, are ongoing – and Kolkata’s team selection, then, might mean more game time for New Zealand pace ace Trent Boult.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Knight Riders beat Hyderabad twice last season, with the early dismissal of opposition captain David Warner entirely key. Suffice to say, a year later, the same will apply.
Kolkata’s 2017, in part, has been due to some bold selections. Bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile, for example, was momentarily replaced by batsman Darren Bravo. The moved worked well against Pune – and wouldn’t be untoward on Sunday.
Captain Gautam Gambhir, too, will enjoy the jostle for position with Warner. The pair, alongside Gujarat’s Suresh Raina and Kings XI Punjab’s Amla, are pursuing the tournament’s leading run-scorer accolade.
Verdict: Kolkata Knight Riders 9/10
The status quo gathered across last year’s twin wins and 15 April 2017’s victory should continue at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, where Hyderabad are good – but won’t be good enough on Sunday.