A hat-trick of wins awaits Kolkata Knight Riders as Dinesh Karthik and his boys take on Shreyas Iyer-led Delhi Capitals in Sharjah on Saturday. Both teams, with two wins and one loss, are sitting pretty in the top half of the table (DC 2nd, KKR 3rd) and will be keen to improve on it with a win today.
Sharjah is a ground that none of the teams have experienced before. The boundaries are shorter than those of Abu Dhabi or Dubai, which may result into plenty of 4s and 6s. In the two encounters played in Sharjah, the teams batting first have gone on to score 200+ runs, and with both KKR and DC comprising big hitters like Andre Russell and Shimron Hetmyer, we can expect some fireworks on Saturday as well.
“The Sharjah ground will be challenging for the bowlers because of the shorter boundary and the wicket is good too. No wonder, we have seen teams scoring above 200 in both matches there. Our plan is to just stick to the basics and execute them. When you get hit badly, your brain starts thinking too much. So, the key is to execute the bowling plan and nothing else,” said Kuldeep Yadav ahead of the encounter.
The last match played in Sharjah saw an intense battle between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, with the latter successfully chasing down 224 runs. Considering this, no target seems big on this ground. Kolkata will be going into the match beaming with confidence after their massive win against Rajasthan in Dubai last Wednesday. Delhi, on the other hand, will look to get back to winning ways following their loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Talking about KKR’s batting, Shubman Gill has been in terrific form and has given the team strong starts in the last couple of matches. But what the KKR think tank will be wary of is Sunil Narine’s form. It is his role as a nonchalant big hitter that cemented his place as an opener. Sharjah, being a batsman’s paradise, will we see the Caribbean rising to the occasion? Well, we will leave it to time to decide that!
We won’t be surprised to see the big hitters coming up the order. Russell was anyway promoted to No. 4 in the last match and it will be interesting to see if he sticks to that position on Saturday as well. Russell has been more lethal against Delhi than any other opposition since 2018, scoring 192 runs at a strike rate of 211.
Meanwhile, Delhi will count on Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw to set the ball rolling. The likes of Iyer, Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis can be pretty dangerous in the middle order but the in-form KKR bowlers will leave no stones unturned to keep them in check.
KKR’s bowling has been top notch in the last two matches, with the likes of Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti breathing fire with raw pace and swing. Even the spinners – Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep – have impressed by either bagging crucial wickets or by being economical in the middle overs.
Delhi’s bowling has been pretty intriguing as well, with Kagiso Rabada being just one wicket away from the Purple Cap. He already has 7 wickets in 3 matches and is breathing down Md Shami’s neck who has bagged 8 scalps in 4 matches. Also, news is floating in that R Ashwin has recovered from his shoulder injury and could join the team following a medical clearance.
Overall, the two teams look solid on paper basis their performances this year. Their head-to-head battle tilts towards Kolkata (13 wins out of 23 matches). But considering KKR lost both matches against Delhi last year, this year the boys will be all too keen to set the record right once more. Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo!
Kolkata Knight Riders take on Delhi Capitals at 7.30PM IST on Saturday in Dubai. Stay tuned for all the live updates on our social networking sites.