After a match that went down to the last over kicked things off in the IPL 2020, the second game of the tournament pits two of the original teams never to have won an IPL title. There are plenty of similarities between Kings XI Punjab and the Delhi Capitals. Both teams have an IPL history not to be too proud of. Both have shown tendencies to start a season well, and at the same time endure a slide that makes it almost impossible to play catch up. Last but not the least, glaringly enough, both teams have combined to bag the wooden spoon five times.
However, that’s a trivia of the past. The one that matter is this. Capitals’ unit has more or less maintained the same look as last year – one that saw them make it to the Playoffs for the first time since 2012 – with a few tweaks here and there. KXIP, on the other hand, present a partially-new look under the guidance of a new coach and captain in Anil Kumble and KL Rahul. Put all these elements together and what do you get? Two evenly-matched sides full of match-winners. The campaign will be a test particularly for KXIP though, given how well they began the 2019 edition before losing their way in the tournament. That said, in the last five matches between the two sides, KXIP have won four.
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There are strengths and weaknesses in both teams and what better way to set the tone for the tournament than getting up and running early, and chalking out a blueprint that can be amended as things progress. While Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore are known to make for the much-anticipated Southern Derby, the Capitals and KXIP aren’t far behind highlighting the rivalry up north. The first shot of a brand-new season will be fired Sunday.
The Capitals’ top order makes for itself with the likes of some star-studded Indian batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw as opener, followed by the middle-order trio of Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant. The big-hitting Shimron Hetmyer is expected to be in the mix of things as well, and as does R Ashwin, who will be up against the side he captained last year. Ishant Sharma is the leader of the pace attack which includes last year’s second-highest wicket-taker Kagiso Rabada and his South African teammate Anrich Nortje, while leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane will partner Ashwin as the team’s second frontline spinner.
Probable XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shreyas Iyer (Captain), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Rishabh Pant (WK), 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Ishant Sharma, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Sandeep Lamichhane
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP boast a starry top three in KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal. At the same time, their middle order looks a bit shaky with some inexperienced campaigners in the mix. The pace battery looks impressive with Mohammed Shami leading an attack comprising 22-year-old Ishan Porel and West Indies quick Sheldon Cottrell. Murugan Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are the two spin options KXIP should bank on given their ability to snap partnerships.
Probable XI: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Sarfaraz Khan, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Krishnappa Gowtham/Deepak Hooda, 7 Murugan Ashwin, 8 Mohammed Shami, 9 Ishan Porel, 10 Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
– Rahane needs 12 more runs to reach 5000 runs in T20s. He will be the 10th Indian to the milestone
– Dhawan is four sixes away and Rishabh Pant is shy of six sixes to complete 100 IPL sixes.
Players to watch out for
– KXIP should look no further than KL Rahul for inspiration. In the last two seasons of the IPL, a red-hot Rahul burned up the charts with 659 in 2018 and 493 runs in 2019 respectively. Besides, Rahul would draw confidence from the fact that he was in tremendous form during India’s tour of New Zealand earlier this year. A third good IPL season on the trot would not only do a world of good to him but boost his confidence ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup.
– Pant has been in the firing line for his inconsistent performance for India. That said, Pant had a wonderful IPL last year, scoring 488 runs including an explosive 78 not out against Mumbai Indians. Pant is a player to watch out for and if you’ve followed the Capitals’ social media handles, you’d know the power he packs behind those shots. A gun player, IPL 2020 could be the make or break season for the 21-year-old wicketkeeper.