Both Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils have enjoyed similar fortunes in the Indian Premier League this year. The two teams go into Saturday’s crucial contest having lost their respective last games, but with the happy memories of winning 3 games on the trot. Their motive is simple – win the game and steer clear of the familiar ‘middle muddle’ of the tournament.
Knight Riders plagued by middle order woes
A while ago, the Kolkata boys seemed to be on a rampage! Experts had even gone to the extent of anointing KKR as the ‘most balanced side of this IPL’. One bad day, against the Mumbai Indians, and reassessment of KKR’s potential has begun. While Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir’s fantastic opening partnership has been the team’s USP yet again, their middle order batting has just not come to the party.
The notable absence of Manish Pandey from the line-up makes the KKR middle order perceptibly more vulnerable to good bowling. While Shakib Al Hasan has been a complete failure with the bat this season, the constant changes in the batting positions of Yusuf and Surya Kumar may not be entirely helpful for them. Come Saturday, and the Knights’ middle order strength shall be put to a stern test by the likes of Chris Morris, Imran Tahir and Zaheer Khan.
Delhi Daredevils in search for stable top order, All-rounders set to play vital role again
The Delhi unit had looked completely out of shape when up against the Knight Riders the last time in this season. They were bowled out for a paltry 98 on a tricky Eden Gardens track, and the bowling had looked woefully ordinary on that occasion. However, with 3 confident wins under their belt, Zaheer Khan’s unit look like a completely different one now. Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris and JP Duminy have been the robust pillars of support for the Daredevils, with useful roles being played by Amit Mishra every now and then.
The problem, however, lies in side’s inability to find a stable combination of the top 3 batsmen. Karun Nair, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer have been tried out at the top this year, but without much success. A popular face from the U-19 arena, Rishabh Pant might also be in the reckoning for a top order slot during the rest of the season. But the fact remains that such lack of surety at the top of the order can have a detrimental effect on the performance of the rest of the batting line-up.
The last match against Gujarat Lions that the Daredevils narrowly lost (by one run), could have easily been in their bag had the top 3 batsmen contributed in some meaningful way. With KKR’s proven record of playing well away from home, the Daredevils top order would need to pack a punch at the Feroz Shah Kotla in order to given their team a better chance in the contest.