Kolkata: Punjab Kings, who infused a new lease of life to their campaign with an upset 34-run win over title-contenders Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday, will be looking to surprise the high-flying Delhi Capitals as well in the second game of the day in IPL on Sunday.
It’s double header time again in the IPL - with the so-called North Indian derby scheduled in Ahmedabad - while the afternoon game pits cellar teams Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad at New Delhi. Time is now running out fast for both the seventh placed Royals, with four points from six games and the wooden spooners Sunrisers (two points from an equal number of games) should they want to create any form of impact in the 2021 edition.
Despite the unexpected win against Virat Kohli’s RCB, Punjab Kings will find the odds stacked against them as their batting revolves too much around their talismanic captain KK. Rahul and ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. The day both fire, like on Friday when they put on a hurricane 80-run partnership, the red shirts look capable of putting up a competitive total but the middle order had been absolutely shambolic so far.
Nicholas Pooran, their highly rated West Indian international, had been having a nightmarish tournament with four ducks to show for while Deepak Hooda had failed to click after just one half-century. It’s really unfathomable as to why the team management is yet to give a game to Dawid Malan, the England batsman who is ranked world No.1 in ICC T20 rankings and has shown the maturity to anchor the innings while on England duty.
Anil Kumble and the think tank of Punjab are, however, unlikely to tinker the bowling combination which came good on the Ahmedabad track on Friday - which showed a decent bounce while also a certain amount of grip for their spinners, the unlikely hero Hardeep Brar and leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi. The 25-year-old Brar, who hails from the Moga village of Punjab which also has also produced women’s superstar Harmanpreet Kaur, now has higher expectations whenever he comes on to bowl or even bat at number seven after a dream performance against RCB.
Make-or-break from Royals, SRH
The first game of the day at the Arun Jaitley Stadium will be a crucial one for Sunrisers, whose reputation of being one of the most consistent performers in IPL has been reduced to tatters this season. The Orange Army took a drastic step of removing David Warner as the captain and replacing him with the composed Kane Williamson - hoping it would bring them a change of luck.
A major overhaul in the playing XI now looks likely on the cards - and it won't be a surprise to see the likes of Jason Roy and Jason Holder making the squad now.
Royals, meanwhile, have showed some consistency in selecting their playing XI but are simply lacking the firepower to take the team over the line in tight contests. The buzz is that with the tournament virtually at it’s midway stage, they are likely to get the experienced Robin Uthappa on loan from Chennai Super Kings to lend an element of experience in the middle order. Uthappa, a former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, was released by Royals after he had a rather poor run in the IPL in the UAE.
Catch the match
Rajasthan Royals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
New Delhi, 2 pm UAE
Punjab Kings vs Delhi Capitals
Ahmedabad, 6 pm UAE