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Resurgent Punjab face Delhi seeking hat-trick of wins

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Two teams sitting way apart in the Indian T20 League tally cross roads once again as Delhi play Punjab in what could be a defining game for the latter. These two sides played an absolute blinder the last time they met, as it took a Super Over to finally decide a winner. While Delhi came out on top that day, Punjab have found a new lease of life of late, coming into the game on the back of two back-to-back victories over Bangalore and Mumbai.

While history suggests that Punjab are the favourites, having won 14 of their 25 encounters - including three from their last five meetings - Delhi’s brilliant form makes this game worth keeping an eye on. Having said that, let’s dive deep to see what the game has in the offering:

Shikhar Dhawan’s scorching form

Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan has notched a ton and two half-centuries in his last three outings. That compared to how he fared in the opening games of the competition provides a big boost to Delhi given that their other man, Prithvi Shaw, has struggled for form. In his first six innings of the tournament, Dhawan had scored a mere 132 runs at an average and strike rate of 22 and 122.2 respective. In his last three outings though, he has managed 227, scoring at a whopping average of 227.0.

First 6 Innings

Metrics

Last 3 Innings

132

Runs

227

108

Balls

143

6

Dismissals

1

16

Boundaries

30

37

Dot Balls

29

122.2

SR

158.7

22

Avg.

227

34.26%

Dot Ball%

20.28%

18

Balls/dismissal

143

Table: Shikhar Dhawan in Indian T20 League

A further bifurcation underlines how drastically the southpaw has improved especially in the powerplay overs. In the first six innings of the season, Dhawan scored a mere 76 runs while taking an average of 6.4 balls to hit a boundary. In his last three innings, however, he has notched 69 runs in the powerplay overs, hitting at a strike rate of over 150 and taking just four balls to hit a boundary. You can rightly expect him to play another big knock on Tuesday.

Punjab’s reliance on Mohammad Shami

Mohammad Shami was simply exceptional in Punjab’s Super Over win against Mumbai on Sunday, defending six runs to take his team one step closer to victory. That day, the pacer picked two wickets to take his tally to 14 as he acquires the third spot in the highest wicket-takers standing. While the pacer has well and truly been amongst wickets, he has failed to restrict in opposition especially in the death overs.

Player

Overs

Wickets

Average

Economy

SR

Mohammed Shami

34.4

14

21.28

8.59

14.8

Other Punjab Pacers

60

15

38.73

9.68

24

Shami’s importance in Punjab’s line-up can be understood by the fact that the other fast bowlers Punjab have in the ranks have churned just 15 wickets this season, one more than Shami’s tally. Furthermore, the pacer, has an economy of 6.78 in the powerplay overs and has picked five wickets during the phase. His death bowling capabilities though need to improve as he has leaked runs at a rate of 12.84 between 16-20 overs.

Most Wickets in PP

Wickets

Economy

Rate

Trent Boult

7

7.52

Mohammed Shami

5

6.79

Ravichandran Ashwin

5

6.14

Deepak Chahar

5

7.00

Players to watch:

Punjab - KL Rahul

Punjab captain KL Rahul is averaging 202 in the powerplay overs this season and has been dismissed just once during the phase. On Sunday, the skipper scored his third consecutive half-century to take his tally to 525 runs for the season. On Tuesday, he will square off against a team which has not only picked second-highest wickets in the powerplay overs (14) but has also managed to keep him quiet, as Rahul averages just 24.50 against Delhi - his worst return against any Indian T20 League side.

Delhi - Ravichandran Ashwin

Like Shami, Delhi’s Ravichandran Ashwin has picked five wickets in the powerplay overs, and has bowled at even a better economy of 6.14. But what makes him more dangerous is his record against Chris Gayle. The Universal Boss’ sheer struggle against Ashwin can be put down with the fact that he has been dismissed four times by the spinner while scoring 49 runs in 59 balls in eight innings at a mere strike rate of 83.05. Like Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, too, has struggled against the spinner. 

Stats to watch out for:

2: Glenn Maxwell is 2 wickets away from 100 wickets in T20s.

5: 6s needed by Pooran to reach 200 T20 6s.

6.57: Maxwell has scored 46 runs against Delhi at an average of 6.57 his lowest against any current opponent in Indian T20 League.

65: Runs needed by Gayle to reach 1000 runs for Punjab.

73: Runs required by Shikhar Dhawan to reach 700 runs vs Punjab, this will be the 3rd team against which he will score 700 runs in the Indian T20 League.

Writer’s pick:

While Punjab have well and truly picked pace in their last couple of games, the balance Delhi have maintained in the season is simply exhilarating. We expect them to complete a double over Punjab on Tuesday.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain

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