The caravan of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has reached Vizag and on Wednesday evening, Delhi Capitals (DC) will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in a knock-out game in this coastal city. The winner of this contest will stay back in Vizag to play Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Qualifier 2 on Friday in a quest to reach the grand finale, scheduled to be played in Hyderabad on 12 May.
Both teams have beaten each other once during the league stages. However, having won four out of their previous five fixtures, Delhi should have the upper hand in terms of form and confidence coming into this fixture. Hyderabad are a balanced team too, and on a low and slow track, which is expected at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, their bowling attack seems better equipped than their counterparts. Overall, with quality players in both camps, we can certainly expect a closely-fought contest.
Here’s a look at some of the key battles between the top players from both sides that could eventually end up determining the outcome of this fixture.
Rishabh Pant vs Rashid Khan
Perhaps the most anticipated player battle in this Eliminator will be the clash between Rishabh Pant and Rashid Khan. Both are flamboyant cricketers and regarded as superstars in contemporary cricket. In IPL, they play crucial roles in the scheme of things of their respected franchises.
For Delhi, batting at No 4, Pant's role is to take control of their batting in the middle-overs, whereas Rashid's leg-break is Hyderabad's premier wicket-taking option. And if the wicket offers some grip and spin, the leggie can turn out to be a tough proposition to handle. Hence, being a left-hander, ideally, Pant is the man for Delhi to take on Rashid in those middle as well as death overs. With the ball coming in, it will be easier for the southpaw to keep the tweaker at bay.
However, Rashid has a very deceptive wrong' un which can outfox a batsman, if he tries to go after him premeditatedly. So, if Pant gets to face Rashid in this game, the fans can expect a mouth-watering contest between them.
Shikhar Dhawan vs Mohammad Nabi
With 486 runs in 14 innings, Shikhar Dhawan is Delhi's in-form batsman. In this season, he has provided solidity at the top. So, going into this high-pressure game, Delhi will be heavily banking on his experience and form to provide them a steady beginning. And against his previous franchise, who let him go before this season, Dhawan would certainly look to prove a point.
In hindsight, to counter the Dhawan threat, Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson will use the off-spin of Mohammad Nabi inside the powerplay. He bowls wicket-to-wicket and the new ball skids on. So, Nabi will try to bring leg-before into play, especially against left-handers. Also, for someone like Dhawan, who likes to sweep against spinners, there is always a chance of top-edging the ball. In fact, he was dismissed against Nabi exactly in that fashion, when both these teams met on the previous occasion.
Martin Guptill vs Trent Boult
In this Hyderabad team, Martin Guptill has been asked to take the role of David Warner, ever since the in-form Aussie opener has left for national duties. Quite understandably, it is tough for Guptill to come into the mix and straightaway start replicating the kind of impact Warner was having for the 'Orange Army' earlier this season. Nevertheless, as an international recruit, Guptill will be keen on showing his worth in this crunch game. And on a slow pitch, he has to make use of the field restrictions by going after the new ball bowlers.
For Delhi, Guptill's New Zealand teammate Trent Boult will take the new ball. He is the back-up option of Kagiso Radaba, who has been ruled out IPL due to an injury. The left-arm seamer is wicket-taker with the upfront and very much aware of the hitting areas of Guptill. So, between these two Kiwi cricketers, we will have an interesting duel in this encounter.
Kane Williamson vs Amit Mishra
Kane Williamson has got runs in his previous two innings for Sunrisers and as a batsman, it seems his bad patch is finally over. The skipper is the backbone of this Hyderabad middle-order. He is a good player of spin and on Wednesday slow bowlers are expected to bowl the majority of the overs. And with someone like Amit Mishra there in the Delhi bowling line-up, who took 3 for 17 in the last match against Rajasthan Royals, Williamson will be facing a stiff challenge.
Shreyas Iyer vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Delhi skipper Shreyas Iyer has been nothing short of a revelation with the bat in this season of IPL. With 442 runs in 14 knocks, the youngster has been consistent and effective, unlike some of his other colleagues who bat in the middle-order. Iyer plays the anchor role and others bat around him. So, in order to expose the vulnerable Delhi line-up, Hyderabad have to target him as soon as possible, and with the new ball, the experience of Bhuvneshwar Kumar might come handy for them in this regard. On a slow pitch, his accurate medium-pace will make the batsman think. It will be interesting to notice how the Mumbaikar counters this challenge.