IPL 2019: Battle for second spot hots up as Delhi Capitals prepare for Mumbai Indians test

Ashish Peter 17/04/2019
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Skippers Shreyas Iyer (l) and Rohit Sharma (r). Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

There has been little to separate Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians as the two teams get ready to lock horns for the second time in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on Thursday.

It was Delhi who emerged victorious by 37 runs in the reverse fixture at Mumbai in what was the campaign opener for both sides.

Both teams are currently level on 10 points in the league table after registering five victories apiece with the second spot up for grabs for Thursday’s victors.

REJIGGED DELHI ON A ROLL

Thursday’s clash sees Delhi Capitals return to their home ground at the Feroz Shah Kotla after an extended spell on the road which has been a highly successful one. Since being beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad at their home venue on April 4, Delhi have gone on to attain away victories in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

Shreyas Iyer and his men have several factors clicking for them with the young squad showing strong form. In the batting department, the experience of Shikhar Dhawan has been complimented with the exuberance of youth provided by the likes of Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw.

With the ball, South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada has been nothing short of sensational with the fast bowler leading the wicket-taking charts with 17 scalps in just eight outings. His South Africa compatriot Chris Morris, meanwhile, has been a steady influence in the all-rounder’s slot with important contributions with both bat and ball.

As such, it is no wonder that Delhi has turned heads with their displays this campaign which has the potential to turn into something special.

MUMBAI BANK ON PANDYA, POLLARD FIREPOWER

While there are several factors behind Delhi’s strong season so far, Mumbai’s two most important players have been all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.

The two right-handers have already played several quick-fire cameos down the order which have proved to be crucial in the side’s success. While Pandya’s 186 runs have come at a strike-rate of almost 192, Pollard’s 185 runs have come at a rate of almost 178.

Among batsmen to have scored more than 100 runs in the 2019 edition, only KKR’s Andre Russell has a better strike-rate than Pandya and Pollard. The two hard-hitting batsmen have together combined to account for 30 sixes this season and they possess the ability to change the complexion of the game in the blink of an eye.

INDIA OPENERS ROHIT AND DHAWAN FACE OFF

Thursday’s clash will see India’s limited-overs opening pairing of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan face up to one another. While Dhawan has been a steadying influence on his return to his hometown franchise, Rohit has struggled to hit the heights which have been expected from him at Mumbai this season.

The Mumbai skipper has returned to his favoured opening slot after a dismal individual campaign in 2018 but it has so far failed to yield the desired results. In eight innings so far, the right-hander is only averaging 27.57 with no half-centuries to show.

In contrast, Dhawan is averaging a healthy 36.57 with the left-hander already registering two half-centuries including one innings where he remained unbeaten on 97.

How the two India openers fare for their respective sides at Delhi could very well have a result-defining impact.

Dhawan and Rohit will line up on opposite sides.

Dhawan and Rohit will line up on opposite sides.

LIKELY XIs

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

Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Jason Behrendorrf, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.

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IPL 2019: Ravi Ashwin lauds debutant Arshdeep Singh after KXIP hit 10-point mark

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Ravi Ashwin. Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

Kings XI Punjab successfully defended a total of 182 runs while Rajasthan Royals’ miseries continued in Indian Premier League 2019 on Tuesday.

KXIP posted a challenging total of 182-6 after a late burst of 17 off four balls from captain Ravi Ashwin, who then returned to pick up 2-24 in a 12-run win over the Royals in Mohali. Punjab rose to fourth in the points table with their fifth win, which pleased the skipper along with the spirited bowling of debutant left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh who got the wicket of the dangerous Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane .

“Very important to get that 10-point mark and I guess it’s the right time in the tournament to do that. It’s very tough to defend here as the wicket generally gets better in the second half. We probably we were 10-15 runs short on this pitch and I thought Arshdeep bowled really well in the first few overs,” Ashwin said.

“We had some plans for Jos (Buttler) and he (Arshdeep) really executed well. Arshdeep can swing the ball both ways and for a left-hander to swing both ways is a massive advantage. We are looking forward to Arshdeep doing some great things in the tournament.”

Ashwin himself has been in great form with the ball in IPL 2019, taking 11 wickets from nine games. The off-spinner said he continues to work on his craft.

“For me, it’s about getting various lengths with different speeds and trying to get the batsman with under cutter and reverse carom. I worked on a lot of things despite people actually calling me for trying too many things I kept on going.”

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IPL 2019: Captain fantastic Ravi Ashwin powers KXIP past Rajasthan Royals

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Ravi Ashwin led KXIP brilliantly. Image: BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

Ravi Ashwin continued to lead from the front as his all-round effort helped Kings XI Punjab overpower Rajasthan Royals by 12 runs in Mohali on Tuesday.

KXIP posted an above par 182-6, with Ashwin providing the boost right at the end with 17 off just four balls. Then with the ball, the off-spinner accounted for innings top scorer Rahul Tripathi and Sanju Samson, finishing with 2-24 off his four overs, as the visitors were restricted to 168-7.

Punjab thus moved into fourth spot with their fifth win while Rajasthan sunk to their sixth defeat, edging closer to the playoff exit.

KL’s strange knock

It is important to get your eye in as a batsman before going after the bowlers. But Kings XI opener KL Rahul took way too much time to get going. After 10 overs, Rahul was just 13 off 23 balls.

His slow start put pressure on other Kings XI batsmen to take more chances. Chris Gayle (30 off 22) edged an off cutter from Jofra Archer behind while Mayank Agarwal slog swept Ish Sodhi to long on for 26 off 12.

Just as he started to get going after reaching 50 off 44 balls, Rahul got caught at point at the start of the 18th over, which left too few deliveries for the remaining batsmen to aim for a 200-plus total.

Skipper Ashwin had to hit a four and two successive sixes in the final over from Dhawal Kulkarni to take the total past 180.

Archer’s day out

Archer was in the thick of things the day before England’s World Cup squad was to be announced. He finished with an incredible 3-15 and took two catches. In fact, the Barbadian was involved in the first five wickets to fall.

Without him, Rajasthan would have faced a target above 200 for sure.

Rajasthan get bogged down

The pitch in Mohali was not the flattest one. Jos Buttler tried to target debutant left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh but top edged a slower one behind to be out for 23 off 17.

Samson just couldn’t get going and was bowled by a carom ball by Ashwin.

Tripathi played an identical knock to his KXIP namesake, labouring to 50 off 45. He fell at the end of the 16th over, getting caught off another carom ball from Ashwin as Rajasthan needed 56 off 24 balls. The game was out of the Royals’ grasp by then.

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