Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will aim to complete a hat-trick of wins in the 13th IPL when they lock horns with Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
Both teams have four points each from three matches and they will look to consolidate their positions on the points table when the second match of Saturday begins here. The first match of the day is between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi.
While KKR are at the third spot, DC is a rung above. The Shreyas Iyer-led DC launched their campaign on a positive note after winning their first two games, but lost their way against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their previous match.
KKR, on the other side, were at the receiving end in the season opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) before the Dinesh Karthik-led side made a comeback in their next two games to register comprehensive wins against SRH and Rajasthan Royals (RR).
In Sharjah, which has been a batting paradise, all eyes will be on the batters from the two sides. While KKR have enough firepower in their ranks with the likes of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubhman Gill, and Eoin Morgan, DC, too, can't be taken lightly any day as they boast of Rishabh Pant, Iyer, Marcus Stoinis, Shikhar Dhawan, and Shimron Hetmyer. However, Hetmyer is yet to fire and similar is the case of KKR's Narine.
Keeping the batting aside, both the teams' bowlers will have to deliver all the goods from their armory as the track in Sharjah might not be as helpful for them as it has been at the other two venues this year.
While KKR bowling looks pretty settled with Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, DC bowlers need to step up against a quality batting side. Barring the first game, Cummins has been KKR's go to man and the Aussie quick has led them from the front.
They came all gun-blazing against RR in their previous game and the team management will bank on their show for a win on Saturday.
In the spin department, Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy will once again share the spin workload.
On the other side, DC's bowling has been lacklustre so far. Except South African pacer Kagiso Rabada, the other pacers - Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, and Mohit Sharma have not lived up to the expectation. While Rabada is sure for another game on Friday, it remains to be seen what bowling combination the DC team management prefer against KKR.
Moreover, the injury of ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been a big blow for them and if the off-spinner makes a comeback, it will further bolster their spin attack along with Amit Mishra and Axar Patel, whoever of the two gets a chance.
As both sides boast of some massive hitters in their ranks, the contest could turn out to be another run feast on a batting friendly pitch of the small Sharjah ground.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Sandeep Warrier, Rahul Tripathi, Siddhesh Lad, Nikhil Naik, Chris Green, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Rinku Singh, Ali Khan, Tom Banton, Manimaran Siddharth
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harshal Patel, Mohit Sharma, Alex Carey, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Tushar Deshpande, Daniel Sams, Lalit Yadav
Starting XI Prediction:
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c&wk), Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy
Delhi Capitals: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin/Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma
Delhi Capitals vs Kolkata Knight Riders Dream11 Picks:
Shubman Gill, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer (C), Eoin Morgan, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Amit Mishra, Harshal Patel
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
The match begins!
Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan are at the crease. Shaw is on strike. Pat Cummins will open the attack for KKR!
Score after 5 overs: DC (51-0)
A great start for Delhi Capitals as the team crossed the 50-run mark in the first five overs. A huge target is on the cards given Delhi's batting line-up and the Sharjah stadium size.
Score after 10 overs: DC (89-1)
Dhawan has been dismissed but KKR should not underestimate the remaining batsmen.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer and Shaw are at the crease with Pant, Hetmyer and Stoinis yet to bat.
Score after 15 overs: DC (151-2)
After completing the 50-run mark, Shaw was dismissed. However, Iyer is now partnering with Rishabh Pant who is also having a good tournament as a batsman. Both batsmen can lead Delhi to set a target above 200.
Score after 20 overs: DC (228-4), KKR need 229 to win
Fireworks in Sharjah! DC has set the highest target in the IPL 20 so far. A terrific innings from skipper Iyer (88* off 38 balls) saw DC end their innings on 228 runs with the loss of four wickets.
The last highest chase of 224 was completed successfully by Rajasthan Royals as they beat Kings XI Punjab last Sunday. Will KKR complete the chase and set a new record?
The chase begins!
Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine are at the crease. Gill is on strike. Kagiso Rabada will open the attack for DC.
Score after 5 overs: KKR (48-1)
Sunil Narine has once again failed to make a mark as an opener. Youngster Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana are at the crease. Will they make the most of the Sharjah ground and complete the record run chase?
Score after 10 overs: KKR (94-3)
At this point, Delhi Capitals had scored lesser runs (89). But they had also lost just one wicket. Their batting line-up was also pretty strong. However, same cannot be said for KKR as they have lost their destructive batsmen early on.
Currently, Nitish Rana and skipper Dinesh Karthik are at the crease. Rana is having a good game and fans will be hoping his form continues with support from the skipper.
Score after 15 overs: KKR (137-6)
KKR still have a massive chase ahead of them. Looking very tough for the side as no hitters barring Eoin Morgan are left to complete the chase.
92 runs needed in 30 balls. If KKR manage to win, it will be a record successful chase in IPL history.
Delhi Capitals defeat Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 runs!
Delhi Capitals (DC) on Saturday beat Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 18 runs in another high scoring thriller and climbed to the top of the table with six points from four matches.
KKR scored 210/8 wickets in their 20 overs in reply to DC's 228/4 wickets in 20 overs at the Sharjah International Cricket Stadium. KKR would have had to complete the highest ever IPL run chase, a record that was broken just last Sunday at the same ground.
Kolkata were behind the pace for much of the chase, finding themselves yet to reach 100 in the first 10 overs of their innings and losing three wickets. Nitish Rana anchored the first half of the innings with a well crafted 58 off 34 balls scoring four fours and as many sixes.
KKR were brought back into the game by a 78-run stand for the seventh wicket between Eoin Morgan (44) and Rahul Tripathi (36). The pair smashed 24 runs in the 17th over and 23 runs off the 18th over. However, Anrich Nortje came in for the penultimate over and pulled things back for DC, accounting for the wicket of Morgan in the process.
Tripathi started the last over bowled by Marcus Stoinis, in which KKR needed 26 runs, with a four but was dismissed off the very next ball. Only three more runs were conceded in the rest of the over as DC took the match and the top spot on the league table.
Earlier, DC captain Shreyas Iyer's unbeaten 38-ball 88 helped his team score 228/4. They were stopped from reaching 250 by Andre Russell who conceded just seven runs in the final over.
Brief scores: DC 228/4 wkts in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 88 not out, Prithvi Shaw 66; Andre Russell 2/29) beat KKR 210/8 wkts in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 58, Eoin Morgan 44; Anrich Nortje 3/33) by 18 runs