Date and time: September 20, Sunday; 19:30 IST
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Delhi Capitals vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2020 preview
Two franchises who tend to fly under the radar, Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab begin their IPL 2020 campaigns with a point to prove.
Kings XI, who finished sixth last season, have invested in overseas players to rebuild their squad. The appointment of a new captain-coach combination (in KL Rahul and Anil Kumble respectively) indicates the franchise’s intent to start afresh after lower-mid-table and bottom-placed finishes in recent seasons. Delhi, too, paid the big bucks at the pre-season auction to reinforce their middle order after being top-heavy in IPL 2019.
Kumble indicated last week that Chris Gayle may not be Kings XI’s first-choice opener. He said: “It is not just Chris the batsman we are looking at but Chris in a leadership role in terms of his contribution to developing young players. I want him to be active on the mentorship role.”
It means Mayank Agarwal is likely to play as an opener alongside Rahul, making space for Glenn Maxwell, bought for Rs 10.75 crore (the second-highest purchase at the auction), to bat at Nos. 4 or 5. The Australian opted out of the pre-IPL 2019 auction and took a mental health break at the back end of last year. He comes into the tournament rejuvenated and on the back of a man-of-the-match performance (a 90-ball 108 with the bat) for Australia in their ODI series decider against England on Wednesday. Nicholas Pooran is the other overseas top-order batting option.
Despite having a solid bowling attack on paper, Kings XI struggled to take wickets last season. They have tried to address it with the acquisitions of fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell (Rs 8.5 crore) and Chris Jordan (Rs 3 crore) to complement Mohammed Shami. With Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman also at their disposal, Kings XI’s bowling is not short on ammunition.
Delhi have a wealth of options in the batting and bowling departments. So much so that finding the right balance to the playing XI could be a challenge, at least during the first part of the season. Two of their acquisitions—Jason Roy and Chris Woakes, bought at their base price of Rs 1.5 crore—have opted out and been replaced by fast bowlers Daniel Sams and Anrich Nortje respectively.
The name that stands out is Shimron Hetmyer, who the franchise bought for Rs 7.75 crore. He bats at Nos. 3 or 4 in limited-overs cricket for the West Indies and for his CPL franchise but with Delhi’s top-four (of Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, captain Shreyas Iyer, and Rishabh Pant) already settled, the team management will be flexible with the Guyanese left-hander’s batting position. Alex Carey, bought for Rs 2.4 crore, is another middle-order option. The wicketkeeper-batsman plays spin better than most overseas players and could feature against teams with an assortment of spinners.
Kings XI traded their former captain, R Ashwin, to Delhi, and in exchange for Karnataka left-arm orthodox spinner Jagadeesha Suchith. Ashwin is one of two frontline off-spinners (homegrown Lalit Yadav being the other) in a squad featuring Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichhane already. If the conditions are conducive to spin, be rest assured that Delhi won’t be complaining.
Delhi versus Kings XI as a rivalry hasn’t produced the kind of contests that get the fans hooked but come Sunday, the face-off between Iyer and Rahul as relatively young captains is one to watch out for. Rahul has admitted to having had sleepless nights during the lockdown in fear that the lack of training could adversely affect his game once cricket returned. He carries a huge weight on his shoulders as Kings XI captain, opener and wicketkeeper. He’s played as wicketkeeper and opener for India in limited-overs cricket but the added responsibility of captaincy, even in T20 cricket, will be challenging.
DC vs KXIP head to head
Delhi Capitals trail Kings XI Punjab by 10-14 in the IPL head-to-head.
The franchises shared the spoils last season by winning their respective home fixtures at the Feroz Shah Kotla and PCA IS Bindra Stadium respectively.
DC vs KXIP Dubai pitch report and conditions
The Dubai International Cricket Stadium hosted seven matches when a part of the 2014 edition of IPL was held in the UAE. Four of those were won by teams batting second, with the highest successful run-chase being 167, achieved by Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) against Kolkata Knight Riders. That’s an indication the pitch does stay true for the length of a T20 match.
While the general consensus is that the Dubai pitch will aid spin and not have pace and bounce, it will be good for batting early in the tournament. The 6pm start could also work in batsmen’s favour. Under lights, the pitch is unlikely to be dry to the extent that the ball grips and turns square and makes it challenging for strokeplay.
Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting, in an interview with The Indian Express, said: “I think these wickets will probably be on the slower side but will offer a little more bounce. And as the tournament goes on, the wickets will probably change. They might spin a bit more in the back half…”
Dubai weather forecast for September 20
A maximum of 38-degree Celsius is forecast for Sunday, with the temperature dropping to 29-degree Celsius in the evening.
Humidity is forecast to be low, making the conditions relatively pleasant for the players.
IPL 2020: DC vs KXIP predicted playing 11, fantasy XI
IPL officials have received approval from the UAE officials to reduce the quarantine period for players arriving from the bio-bubble in England to just 36 hours. It means Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis will be available for selection against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. Delhi’s top-five batsmen pretty much pick themselves, while either Carey or Stoinis could play as a finisher at No. 6.
Another selection call that Delhi would have to make is between Ashwin and Mishra. Kings XI have only one left-hander in their top six, so if Delhi are keen on match-ups (of having leg-spinners bowling to right-hand batsmen and off-spinners to left-hand batsmen), Mishra could play ahead of Ashwin. But then, leg-spin is part of Ashwin’s arsenal, too, which he has demonstrated over the last two seasons. He’s bowled a fair bit of the variety in the nets, too.
Probable Delhi Capitals playing 11: 1 Shreyas Iyer (c), 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Marcus Stoinis/Alex Carey, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Keemo Paul, 9 R Ashwin/Amit Mishra, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Ishant Sharma
The new 36-hour quarantine rule is significant for Kings XI, who have Maxwell available for selection straight away. Nicholas Pooran is likely to get the nod in the top order, while James Neesham is the first-choice all-rounder in the squad. It leaves Jordan, Cottrell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Hardus Viljoen vying for the fourth overseas spot. India Under-19 World Cup star Ravi Bishnoi could make his debut!
Probable Kings XI Punjab playing 11: 1 KL Rahul (c & wk), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Nicholas Pooran, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Karun Nair/Mandeep Singh, 6 Sarfaraz Khan, 7 James Neesham, 8 Krishnappa Gowtham, 9 Sheldon Cottrell/Hardus Viljoen, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ravi Bishnoi
Fantasy XI: 1 KL Rahul (c & wk), 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 James Neesham, 8 Krishnappa Gowtham, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Axar Patel
DC vs KXIP match prediction
Delhi Capitals are the more formidable side on paper but Kings XI Punjab, especially in captain Rahul and Maxwell, have match-winners capable of bridging the gap between the sides. That said, Delhi have a strong batting line-up and they bat deep, with big-hitting Axar Patel likely in at No. 7. That means, one of the keys to success for Kings XI is taking wickets at regular intervals and stifling a power-packed Delhi batting.