Come Sunday, a place in the IPL 2020 final against the Mumbai Indians will be up for grabs when Delhi Capitals take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2. Shreyas Iyer-led DC showed promising signs during the early stages of the tournament, winning five out of their first seven games, but have recently lost rhythm, with their only win in the last six matches coming against RCB, in a match where both teams qualified for the playoffs.
DC have a mix of youth and experience, but inconsistency at the top-order batting has been a cause for concern, with Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane failing to fire at times.
SRH, meanwhile, got off to a shaky start in the tournament with just three wins out of the first seven, but a late change of fortune was what helped them reach the playoffs, and David Warner’s men looked in top nocth form against RCB in the Eliminator as well, which they won by six wickets.
DC will be the hungrier team for victory, having never reached the final.
Here are a few key player battles that could decide the outcome of the match:
Kagiso Rabada vs Kane Williamson
Just as he showcased on Friday against RCB, Kane Williamson was still in it despite being out of form during the tournament at times.
The New Zealand skipper showed resilience, with his unbeaten 50, and proved that he could still be a vital cog in SRH’s batting lineup in pressure situations. He may have peaked at the right time, and will be a threat to the Capitals’ bowlers, especially death-overs specialist Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada is the second highest wicket-taker in the league with 25 scalps, and will look to go all guns blazing with his yorker deliveries. More so, when and if Williamson tries to take SRH deep into the death overs.
Marcus Stoinis vs SRH
Australia’s Marcus Stoinis has arguably been Delhi Capitals’ signing of the season. He is a proven finisher, and an incredible all-rounder who can create problems to the opposition on his day.
DC’s top-order batting has looked topsy-turvy this season, and Stoinis should be ready to carry that extra burden to see off the innings, coming to bat in the middle-order.
In the last match, despite DC going on to lose it, Stoinis was impeccable, taking a wicket for just five runs despite getting to bowl just that one over. Later on, he fought valiantly with a knock of 65, before being dismissed by the dangerous Bumrah.
In terms of statistics, this has been Stoinis’ best-ever IPL season. He is the third highest run-scorer for the Capitals this season, with 314 runs from 15 matches, despite being quite a way behind Shreyas Iyer (433) and Shikhar Dhawan (525).
He has also scalped nine wickets. Also, the pitches have been slow, but have been assisting the seamers, as Rabada pointed out in October, thanks to the aided swing.
Shreyas Iyer vs Rashid Khan
This duel sets up an exciting battle on the cards. Rashid Khan had got the better of Shreyas Iyer in the second ball of his spell when the two teams met in September, and why it means a lot is because it could be game changing.
Following that dismissal of Iyer, SRH never really gave room for revival to DC, and Rashid ended with figures of 3/14.
With his magical spin bowling, Rashid Khan could be expected to take advantage over the DC batsmen, who have seemed to be off at times.
There have been nine instances where the top-order batsmen have endured ducks: Four times by Dhawan, thrice by Prithvi Shaw and twice by Ajinkya Rahane.
Only Dhawan has been consistent among them, with Shaw and Rahane failing to get going at times.
DC’s top-order has been unpredictable this season, and task will be cut out for Shreyas if a similar collapse happens.
Shreyas will have to be cautious and sensible while facing Rashid, who has the most economical figures of 5.30 this season. For Rashid, if he sees off Shreyas in the earlier stages, that could set the platform for a solid display from the rest of the bowlers.
Shikhar Dhawan vs Sandeep Sharma
Dhawan has largely had a successful IPL so far with two centuries and three fifties, but he tends to cheaply give away his wicket sometimes, and that disrupts the continuity of the innings.
Dhawan had scores of 69*, 57, 101* and 106* during the league stage in October. But from then on, he seems to be inconsistent, with scores of 6,0,0,54,0 in the last five innings.
Meanwhile, Sandeep Sharma can be effective in powerplay, and despite not taking a wicket against RCB in the Eliminator, he was economically good with figures of 5.25.
Sandeep had got the better of Dhawan the last time these two teams met in October, removing the Indian opener for a golden duck.
Sandeep has so far taken 13 wickets in 12 matches.
This is why Dhawan, as well as largely DC’s top-order can be unpredictable, at times, and they will face a stiff challenge against a formidable bowling lineup of Sandeep, Rashid and T Natarajan, who all have seemed deadly throughout the tournament.
The task will be cut out for Dhawan to get going and set a rhythm for the innings, failing which may put more pressure on the middle-order.
Manish Pandey vs DC
Manish Pandey seems to be enjoying his best-ever IPL season with the bat. Having scored 404 runs from 15 matches, he surpassed his previous best tally of 401 runs in the 2014 edition.
Pandey had hammered a 47-ball 83 earlier in the season against Rajasthan Royals, one of his three fifties in this year’s IPL. Interestingly, all three of his half-centuries have come batting in the No 3 position, which has been his preferred slot.
He has also batted in the No 4 and the No 5 positions, which seemingly hasn’t worked for him.
One notable instance where he was slotted in No 5 was against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), where Kane Williamson was promoted to the opening slot. That plan did not do wonders for Pandey, scoring just six runs on the occasion.
However, he can be threatening in the No 3 position, and that adds depth to the SRH batting lineup, with even Williamson and Jason Holder having the capability to give the finishing touches, later in the innings.
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