Eyeing their maiden IPL title, Delhi Capitals will face another litmus test as the Kolkata Knight Riders unit, full of optimism, in the second qualifier on Wednesday.
Delhi Capitals failed in their first major Test when they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier and another defeat would mean no more tests for the strong side led by India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.
Two-time winners KKR will undoubtedly gain confidence from their win against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Monday's Eliminator which dashed Virat Kohli's hopes of winning an IPL title with their long-standing franchise.
If the emphasis is on pace and peaking at the right time then KKR will certainly visualize their chances in their next outing irrespective of their opponents and the resources and depth in the line-up.
DC, who topped the league stage with 10 wins for a total of 20 points, is well aware of the task that awaits them. Ever since Australian great Ricky Ponting took over as their coach, Delhi Capitals have grown from strength to strength as they finished second runners-up in the 2019 edition before reaching the summit clash last year.
The goal is to do a better show this year and win the title. They are one of the most balanced sides in the tournament, with a formidable batting line-up and a powerful pace attack that is assisted by experienced spinners including Ravichandran Ashwin.
In Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, and Shreyas Iyer, Delhi boasts of a solid top-order. Pant, along with Shimron Hetmyer, looks after the middle order even as they miss out on the injured Marcus Stoinis, skill.
Dhawan (618) was the second-highest run-scorer in 2020 and has already scored 551 runs this season. His opening partner Shaw is also showing a good game against CSK.
On the bowling front, the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada (2020 Purple Cap winner) and Enrique Nortje has proved to be a dream pairing after taking 52 wickets together in 2020.
Next is pacer Avesh Khan, who has taken 23 wickets so far this season of the tournament, and will back himself against KKR to add to his tally.
DC has registered five victories in the UAE leg of the tournament, but their one loss here has come against KKR, and what better opportunity for them to exact revenge than in the IPL playoffs.
However, with the Gulf enjoying a massive turnaround after suffering a disastrous first half in India earlier this year, it is easy to say.
They managed to reach the playoffs at the expense of five-time defending champions Mumbai Indians, thanks to their superior net run rate.
Things took a turn for the better after the Kolkata team landed in the UAE and if their performance against RCB is any indication, KKR is in a hurry to go and would like to do more than finish their campaign in the playoffs.
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On the pitch offering turn, KKR's spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy (16 wickets so far) and Sunil Narine, who are on high after their stellar all-around performance against RCB, will test Delhi's formidable batting lineup.
Batting has not been KKR's biggest strength this season and DC will look to capitalize on that.
Against a potent bowling attack, Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi (the team's top scorer with 393 runs so far this season) and Morgan himself will have to rise to the occasion if KKR is to make it to the final, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni's three-time winner Chennai Super Kings is waiting.
Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Ripal Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimrom Hetmyar, Shreyas Iyer, Steve Smith, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan, Ben Dwarshuis, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Kulwant Khejroliya, Lukman Meriwala, Pravin Dubey, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Axar Patel, Lalit Yadav, Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sam Billings and Vishnu Vinod.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathy, Shubman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Dube, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russel, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Tim Seifert.
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