It’s time for the North Indian Derby, two teams which have failed to hit their full potential in the IPL so far. Neither Kings XI Punjab nor the Delhi Capitals or its previous iteration the Delhi Daredevils have raised the IPL yet.
Along with Royal Challengers Bangalore, they will be hoping to change the unlucky statistic and it begins here today.
After a cracker of a match in Abu Dhabi, the action will now be in Dubai where DC will take on KXIP in the second game of the tournament. Both teams will be led by young captains – KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer.
It will be interesting to see how they put their teams out there and also who they pick. Here are five top players to watch out for in today’s game.
KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
After the chastening experience on Koffee with Karan with his friend ‘Main Karke Aaya Hai’, KL Rahul will be keen to show he has what it takes to lead a team. KL Rahul became captain after R Ashwin departed for Delhi Capitals and will be keen to prove he can lead from the front and still score. He has 1250 runs so far in the last two seasons and will want to show what he can do. He is just 23 runs away from surpassing the overall 2000-run mark in IPL and if he does so, will be the 20th Indian to cross that barrier.
Chris Gayle (Kings XI Punjab)
The World Boss’ reflexes might have slowed down but he remains one of the most destructive hitters of a cricket ball on his day. He is 16 runs short of the 4500-mark, which would put him in exalted company. Only David Warner has crossed that record among foreign players in IPL.
The others who have include Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
R Ashwin (Delhi Capitals)
The former KXIP skipper will go up against his own team and will also have a point to prove. For some reason, the articulate spinner has emerged as a divisive figure post the Mankading incident, even though, it’s not clear why following the rules of the game ought to be considered such a sacrilegious act.
Dubai has a slow-turning pitch and as KL Rahul noted, Ashwin could make a mark here.
Rishabh Pant (Delhi Capitals)
There are few things in life more exhilarating and annoying than watching Rishabh Pant bat. It’s like drilling caffeine into one’s veins while driving a car down a hill without a hand brake. Pant is capable of infuriating and angering in equal measure and if he gets going, he can turn a game in a few balls. But that’s in Tests and ODIs.
In T20, he’s sui generis, the first of his kind in some ways. What is remarkable is that Pant comes lower down the order, and since the start of his 2nd IPL season, as Sidharth Monga noted, there’s not other player who has scored more runs than him.
The others in that list are all top order batsmen, and none of them are close to his strike-rate. He also averages more than 30 and has a strike rate above 150, a record matched by only Kieron Pollard and Ian Harvey.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Kings XI Punjab)
The spinner from Afghanistan will love the surface in UAE and with master spinner Kumble at the helm, he will have all the guidance he can get. Rahman was a revelation at the 2018 edition when he took 14 wickets in 11 matches at under 7 runs an over. He was fabulous under Ashwin but didn’t have the best 2019. With Ashwin now on the opposite side, he will be keen to prove his worth.