IPL 2022: Humdinger on the cards between Delhi and Rajasthan

The momentum appears to be with DC, but in T20 things can change swiftly, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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David Warner of Delhi Capitals plays a shot against Punjab Kings. (BCCI)
David Warner of Delhi Capitals plays a shot against Punjab Kings. (BCCI)

Published: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 12:11 AM

Delhi Capitals are currently number six on the points table, but after the walloping, they meted out to Punjab Kings on Wednesday, the third-placed Rajasthan Royals will be filled with some trepidation on how to tame the Rishabh Pant and his ebullient bunch of players who appear to be hitting peak form.

After some lacklustre and inconsistent performances in the first three weeks, DC shifted a couple of gears higher against Punjab to win by nine wickets with 57 balls to spare. This whopping margin not only gave them two important points but equally importantly improved their Net Run Rate by leaps and bounds in what is becoming a close-fought tournament.

This victory came in the background of a Covid scare in the team that almost caused a cancellation of the match. Star overseas recruit Mitch Marsh was among a couple of players from DC who tested positive, causing turmoil not just in the franchise but also in the league.

Delhi had to play without Marsh but made light of these hurdles by sweeping aside Punjab through excellent all-round bowling and a blistering run chase by openers Prithvi Shaw and David Warner.

How do these two teams square up?

Apart from being higher on the points table, RR also have players who are topping the batting and bowling charts this season. Jos Buttler, with two smashing centuries in an aggregate of 375 runs, is 110 runs clear of next best KL Rahul. In bowling, Yuzvendra Chahal, with 17 wickets is top of the pops. The crafty leg-spinner has four more wickets than his Kuldeep Yadav, who incidentally plays for DC.

In batting, apart from Buttler, skipper Sanju Samson has shown marauding form albeit intermittently. The more consistent, but no less dangerous, has been West Indies left-hander Shimron Hetmyer who was playing for DC until last season.

Add talented opener Devdutt Padikkal, all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Jimmy Neesham and the batting becomes formidable.

The bowling’s not much behind. Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Ashwin, Neesham and Chahal would test any top order in the league.

If this makes RR seem invincible, consider what they will run into tonight. Shaw and Warner have emerged as the best opening pair, lighting up the tournament with their incandescent, uninhibited approach. Pant’s credentials hardly need reiterating. If he hasn’t made as much match-winning impact as yet, it is because Shaw and Warner have left very little for the likes of Pant and Sarfaraz Khan to do.

DC’s is also equal in strength with RR for all-rounders and bowlers. Axar Patel, Lalit Yadav and Shardul Thakur have shone with bat and ball, while Mustafizur Rahman and Khaleel Ahmed have been excellent in the pace department and Anrich Nortje’s absence has hardly been felt.

The trump card has been left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav who has rediscovered his mojo and is knocking on the doors of the Indian selectors for a recall to the national side.

Both teams had contrasting wins in their previous match. RR scraped through narrowly against KKR in the previous match despite Buttler’s century while DC dismantled Punjab with ease.

The momentum appears to be with DC, but in T20, things can change swiftly. With exciting talent on both sides, it is reasonable to expect the contest to be a humdinger.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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