IPL 2019: Russell's all-round brilliance in focus as Delhi prepare for Kolkata test

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Russell is in red-hot form. Image credit - Sportzpics.

It will be a chance for Delhi Capitals to get back to winning ways in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) when they play host to Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday but the task for the home team will not be an easy one given the form their opponents have shown so far.

The renamed Delhi Capitals started off their campaign with an impressive 37-run victory over three-time champions Mumbai Indians but the early confidence gained from that win was shaken up a bit when Chennai Super Kings prevailed over them in a tense encounter.

Having finished with the wooden spoon last season, Delhi made some clever additions to their roster by roping in the experienced Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma. Both the veterans played their part in helping shepherd an already strong young Indian core towards a win over Mumbai and much more will be expected of them going forward in the campaign.

Ishant’s arrival has bolstered a more than formidable bowling unit being led by South Africa pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada and which includes the highly experienced veteran spinner Amit Mishra. Such have been Delhi’s problems of plenty in the bowling department that Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane has failed to get a single game so far while Kiwi stalwart Trent Boult had to miss out in the loss to Chennai.

DEATH OVER CONCERNS FOR DELHI

However, the primary worry for Delhi comes in the batting department where Prithvi Shaw and skipper Shreyas Iyer have failed to come to the party so far. While Dhawan has been a steadying figure in both matches and Rishabh Pant has played two explosive innings, Delhi still ran out of steam in the death overs against Chennai, throwing away a promising start.

From 120-2 at the 15th over mark, Delhi’s innings ultimately culminated at 147-6 with the defending champions turning the screws in the death-overs. That proved to be critical with Chennai clinching victory off the final over of the match with the shoddy batting at the death costing Delhi dear.

KKR RIDING ON RUSSELL’S INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE

One team who are not experiencing any death-overs’ woes are Kolkata with Dinesh Karthik’s men collecting more than 50 runs with the bat in the final three overs in each of their two wins so far.

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has been primarily responsible for the destruction Knight Riders have caused in the death overs with scores of 49 (19) and 48 (17). Russell’s impact has not been limited to just the bat with the 30-year-old also chipping in with four crucial wickets with the ball.

Russell has been the deciding factor for Kolkata in their two wins and keeping him quiet will be the major hurdle to cross for Delhi on Saturday.

Along with Russel’s brute power, Kolkata also have an excellent spin attack at their disposal which includes Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla. It is the form of Narine with the ball which will be a worry for Karthik with the West Indies man struggling with his economy-rates since coming back from an injury.

Narine did find form with the bat in the win over Kings XI Punjab but the displays of fellow opener Chris Lynn have been less than satisfactory. Old horses Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana have been looking good for the two-time champions but currently Russell’s brilliance is masking several non-performing assets for the Knight Riders.

Karthik’s men cannot rely on Russell to bail them out on every occasion and other senior stars of the franchise will have to step up if their perfect record so far is to continue.

LIKELY XIs

Delhi Capitals: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Ingram, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna.

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