Kolkata Knight Riders have made one of the greatest comebacks since the UAE leg of the tournament began. Their top-order batters have scored consistently at a healthy pace and their spinners have troubled oppositions on slow tracks. Even though Eoin Morgan hasn’t performed the role of a batsman to his best, he has led Knight Riders to six wins in the last eight matches. Now they are in Qualifier 2, just one step away from the final.
Meanwhile, Delhi Capitals have been the most consistent IPL franchise in recent years – they are the only ones to qualify for the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. The key to their success has been identifying their best XI early and changing it only when forced to do so.
This season, Capitals topped the points table despite missing Marcus Stoinis for five games. But after their defeat to Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1, weaknesses seem to have emerged in their line-up. Suddenly, in the absence of Stoinis, their balance looks disturbed, while R Ashwin’s bowling form is doing no good to them. Can they regroup quickly and book a spot in their second consecutive final?
The chasing teams have won five out of seven games in Sharjah so far this season. Adding to that, four of Capitals’ five losses this season have come when batting first, while Knight Riders have won on all five occasions they have chased during the UAE leg of the tournament. So it will not be a surprise if both teams are looking to field first.
• This season Ashwin has picked up merely five wickets in 12 games at a poor average of 60.80 and a strike rate of 49.0. Of the 22 bowlers who have bowled at least 40 overs in the tournament, Ashwin’s average and strike rate are the worst.
• Knight Riders have played three games in Sharjah this season. In two of them, against Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, which are known for their dynamic batting line-up, they didn’t concede even one six.
• In the IPL playoffs, including finals, Pant has scored 199 runs in six innings, at an average of 49.75 and a strike rate of 151.91. He scored a fifty in Qualifier 1 as well.
• The teams that have scored more runs in powerplay have won eight of nine games in Sharjah this season. So, the team who leads in powerplay surely will have the upper hand.
• Capitals have hit the most number of fours (227) and the least number of sixes (60) for any team in IPL 2021.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Marcus Stoinis/Tom Curran, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Avesh Khan
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Venkatesh Iyer, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Eoin Morgan (capt), 7 Shakib Al Hasan, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Shivam Mavi