Sunrisers Hyderabad have a battle on their hands
DC, on top of the points table currently, appear to be the best of these three in terms of team combination and the current form of key players
Delhi Capitals, Punjab Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals are the teams that have caught the eye so far this IPL season. All three have played aggressively, with flair and not a little thought to topple some fancied sides already.
Two of these teams - DC and KXIP - have never won the title. Rajasthan, surprise winners in the league's first edition in 2008, have been unable to repeat the feat. In effect, all three teams are eager to become top dog this season. Their performances so far suggest deep intent as well as the capacity to actualise this.
DC, on top of the points table currently, appear to be the best of these three in terms of team combination and the current form of key players. The top order has been consistent. Though no one has played a substantial knock like K Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Sanju Samson and Rohit Sharma. Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh , Pant and Marcus Stoinis have looked in good nick.
If even three of these five click, it gives the total enough heft for bowlers to defend. In any case, the bowling - which has variety and depth - has looked sharp and penetrative, with Kagiso Rabada outstanding. Ravichandran Ashwin, injured in the first match, hasn't been missed as Axar Patel and Amit Mishra have been splendid with spin.
DC's rivals tonight, Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, have lacked characteristic chutzpah. Struggle to get the team balance right has been evident in the two earlier matches. Both were surrendered without too much of a fight, which means bottom position in the points table currently, and present underdog status.
Unlike DC, Sunrisers's top-order has been wobbly. Jonny Bairstow's had one good knock against RCB, but couldn't lead his team to win, David Warner's form has been modest, Manish Pandey, despite a spirited show in the previous match, is still seeking his best touch.
Beyond these three, the batting looks vulnerable. The classy Kane Williamson is fit. But will he get into the side without affecting the bowling attack? With Williamson in the team, all-rounder Mohammad Nabi will have to sit out. That would make the bowling almost entirely dependent on Rashid Khan, for even Bhuvneshwar Kumar has looked somewhat undercooked.
On the basis of their two previous matches, SRH are in a quandary on picking the playing XI, as well as the form of some stalwarts. However, if Warner gets past a cameo to play a big knock, and if Rashid Khan picks up more than just a perfunctory wicket, the contest could get intense and even provide a topsy-turvy result.
Players to Watch Out For:
David Warner, Rashid Khan (SRH)
Prithvi Shaw, Kagiso Rabada (DC)
X Factor: Manish Pandey
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
The defending champion go up against KXIP in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. READ MORE
Late Joshua Kimmich goal seals a 3-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund. READ MORE
"We know we have to improve and we are going to," said Real boss... READ MORE
Elsewhere, Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a hat-trick as Everton thrashed... READ MORE
Normal working hours will resume from Sunday, November 1. READ MORE
Covid-19 a nuclear bomb in companies' balance sheets, says Alabbar READ MORE
The report said that uncertainties persisted due to how the pandemic... READ MORE
Over 3,000 Afghans had congregated to collect tokens needed to apply... READ MORE