Kings XI Punjab's openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. (Image: IPL/BCCI/Twitter)
When the Delhi Capitals and the Kings XI Punjab met in the previous game, it was the first time that a Super Over decided a match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. Delhi won and took confidence from the nail-biting finish, going on to be the side to beat this season. Punjab, on the other hand, seem to have forgotten to win tight games until October 18 when they got better of the much stronger Mumbai Indians in a tie decided by a double Super Over.
A must-win for KXIP
With 14 points from 9 games, Delhi are sure to make it to playoffs and will likely see the October 20 game against KXIP as a match to cement their place in the qualifiers.
“We are aiming to take the two points in every match—be it Punjab or any other team. We just want to maintain that winning habit in this tournament—that's our challenge,” DC’s assistant coach Mohammed Kaif said in a press release.
Also read: IPL 2020 | Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Capitals: Fantasy team picks for the match
KXIP have no such luxury. They need a win to bring their campaign back on track after a disastrous fortnight. The stunner they pulled against Mumbai must have lifted their confidence as they no longer sit at the bottom of the points table.
“We still want to take it one game at a time. It is sweet after the kind of matches we have lost but the talk in the dressing room is to focus on the process. We know we need to win everything from here, but we can’t forget the processes that lead to a win,” said skipper KL Rahul after the win against Mumbai.
Rahul’s Capital challenge
KXIP's three wins have come on the back of mighty contributions from the captain’s bat who was adjudged Man of the Match in each of these games. Rahul has 525 runs at an average of 75 and a strike rate of 136 after nine games, a feat accomplished only by Virat Kohli who made 561 runs during IPL 2016.
But that is only one part of the Rahul story. In seven of the nine innings, his strike rate has been lower than his team’s run-rate or the asking rate. The couple of games that KXIP lost inexplicably Rahul was invariably there till the end and yet couldn’t do much.
He managed only two runs from the six balls he faced when the team needed seven runs in the last two overs for a win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
If the law of averages catches up, Rahul is unlikely to make a big score in this game and Delhi have been a bugbear for him—his average is below 25 in eight innings against them.
Not just Rahul, Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal, too, have their share of Delhi blues. If Gayle’s match-up against R Ashwin (below 85 strike rate and 4 dismissals) is bad then Mayank Agarwal’s is not that great either (average of 10 and 4 dismissals).
Contrasting death-over bowling
Delhi are the most economical bowling side and are especially good at death, giving away a miserly 9 runs an over. For Punjab, the last overs have been a nightmare, with an average of 14 runs an over.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Shreyas Iyer (captain), 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Tushar Deshpande, 10 Kagiso Rabada 11 Anrich Nortje
Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul (captain, wicketkeeper), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh
(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter) Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here