Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Knights bank on favoured Sharjah against DC in bid for final spot. For KKR, the occasion is perfect in Sharjah. They play a second consecutive knockout game at one of their favourite venues
For KKR, the occasion is perfect in Sharjah. They play a second consecutive knockout game at one of their favourite venues
Couple of years ago at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, the groundsman had assured Ricky Ponting of producing the venue’s “best pitch” of the season thus far. It was clearly the best bet for a Delhi Capitals side that had beaten Mumbai Indians in flat conditions of the Wankhede but struggled on the low, slow pitches back home. Come the judgement day against Sunrisers Hyderabad, DC lost again, on yet another sluggish pitch, prompting Ponting to call the surface “by far and away, the worst.”
Familiar conditions will greet DC’s head coach for Qualifier 2 in Sharjah but what stands changed from 2019 is the make-up of the side. Pacers Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Avesh Khan might have grabbed the headlines but the spinners have been quietly going about their job, picking the third-most number of wickets behind their counterparts in Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. And they have done so in a significantly lesser number of overs than say KKR. What DC would want, though, is for Ravichandran Ashwin to strike form; the offspinner has picked only 5 wickets in 12 matches and hasn’t even bowled out his quota of overs in the last two games.
For KKR, the occasion is perfect in Sharjah. They play a second consecutive knockout game at one of their favourite venues, face an opposition coming in with two back-to-back defeats and know how to beat them in these conditions, having done so earlier in the competition. Incidentally, Sunil Narine was the one who made all the difference with the bat and ball in that match too.
After their four-wicket win over RCB in the Eliminator, captain Eoin Morgan acknowledged how the bowlers have led with “Baz’s mantra” of free-spirited cricket in the UAE leg. But if they are to move past the all-round challenge of DC, the batsmen will have to join in too. None of them feature in the top ten run-getters this season as opposed to three from DC but there are sparks. The KKR batsmen have already shown nous and game plan in Sharjah, using the shorter boundaries to hit sixes and making the playing conditions redundant, and it’s about time that the finishers amp up their game too. Dinesh Karthik and Morgan have averaged 27 and 13 respectively this season, and it reflects in how KKR have the worst death-over batting stats of all the four qualified teams.
When: DC vs KKR, Qualifier 2, October 13, 2021, 7:30 pm IST
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
What to expect: A familiar surface in Sharjah. The ball will come on for the batters in the powerplay before the shine goes away and run-scoring becomes difficult. 6 out of 9 games here have been won by sides batting second. KKR will take relief from the fact that they’ve done it here by both batting first (vs RR) and bowling first (vs DC and RCB). Delhi, on the other hand, have only one win in two games here this season, and it came against MI whilst batting second.
Head to head: DC 12- 15 KKR. The last time these two sides met, KKR won by 3 wickets. DC were restricted to 127/9 and KKR chased it down in 18.2 overs, thanks to a 10-ball 21 from Narine. Interestingly, KKR hit 7 sixes compared to DC’s zero, a tactic that is straight from the Brendon McCullum playbook.
Injured/Unavailable: DC continue to monitor the fitness of Marcus Stoinis and if he’s available, he could come in straight for Tom Curran.
Tactics and match-ups: Rishabh Pant picked Curran over Rabada to bowl the last over against CSK and came in for a bit of flak. And so it will be interesting to see how he goes about it this time around but he could be saved from making that choice if Rabada strikes form. The fast bowler hasn’t picked a wicket in his last four games and it’s translated into DC being the most expensive side in death overs (ER of 10.20 between overs 16 to 20) behind Rajasthan Royals.
Anrich Nortje enjoys a favourable match-up against Narine, getting him out twice in the 8 balls he’s bowled at him. He could be brought back if KKR decide to send Narine as a pinch-hitter once again.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant(w/c), Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer, Tom Curran/Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje
Kolkata Knight Riders
Injured/Unavailable: Shakib Al Hasan is available but KKR continue to assess Andre Russell on a day to day basis. “Andre has a grade two hamstring tear and it’s been only two weeks. He’s worked incredibly hard along with our medical team. We only have 48 hours before the next game so we’ll have to make that decision on how he presents himself tomorrow and then the next day,” Morgan had said after KKR’s win over RCB.
Tactics and match-ups: Prithvi Shaw averages over 64 at a strike-rate of 172 against KKR and his last innings against them was a brutal 41-ball 82 in Ahmedabad. His battle against Lockie Ferguson could shape the powerplay.
Although Avesh Khan’s form might have tapered off a touch, with only 3 wickets coming in his last 2 games, KKR will be wary against him. The pacer has good numbers to show in Sharjah (3-13 vs KKR and 3-15 vs MI) and could be the key bowler for DC in the middle overs, the phase that more or less seems to decide the games in Sharjah.
Nitish Rana has three fifties among his 277 runs in 9 games against DC. He strikes them at over 144 and will be a key batsman for KKR. The left-hander also enjoys a favourable match-up (35 balls, 76 runs) against Ashwin.
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What they said:
Eoin Morgan: The first phase of the tournament we were still trying to implement Baz’s mantra of trying to play positive, aggressive cricket that our fans enjoy watching but also a brand that the players enjoy playing. In that first phase, it didn’t quite happen. We showed glimpses of it. In the second phase, people have turned up with different motivations and drive to play that aggressive brand of cricket.
Rishabh Pant: The only thing we can do is rectify our mistakes and move on to the next one. I thought that Tom bowled beautifully throughout the match (against CSK) but the last over unfortunately went for runs. I thought the bowler who is having a great day, it’s better to use him for the last over.