Delhi have lost four of their last five games against Punjab. Can they cause an upset or will it be another win for Punjab?
Following an enticing opening game of the 13th edition of the Indian T20 League, it's time for Delhi to lock horns with a confident Punjab unit on Sunday, September 20, at the Dubai International Stadium.
Delhi taking on Punjab has always been a cracking affair, with the teams crossing the 160-run mark three times in their last five meetings. In an overall perspective, these two teams have crossed swords on 24 occasions and the team from Punjab has emerged victorious in 14 of them, while Delhi has come out on top 10 times. Judging by the recent form though, Shreyas Iyer's men head into the game with an upper hand, having won three of their last five Indian T20 League fixtures. Punjab, on the other hand, have registered a solitary victory in their last five attempts.
Best win rate against the opposition for Punjab
Punjab have registered four victories in their last five meetings against their Sunday's opponents. Looking at their dominance, it's no surprise that they have a win percentage of 58.33 over Delhi; their best among currently active teams in the league. In fact, only Chennai (15 wins) have more wins over Delhi than Punjab.
History seems little though in a game of magnitude such as this. Both team, who are two of the three Indian T20 League teams - alongside Bangalore - yet to lift the title since its inception, will look to assert a firm authority early in the campaign to get the ball rolling.
Tale of contrasting openers
Delhi, spearheaded by the opening pair of experienced Shikhar Dhawan and young prodigy Prithvi Shaw, have found it difficult to get a brawny start from their openers. In the 2019 edition of the tournament, Delhi openers scored a mere 874 runs at a measly average of 28.19 (second-lowest amongst eight teams). Shaw, in particular, had an impressive start, scoring 99 runs in his opening two games, but his form dipped ever since. He, in fact, had just three 30+ scores last season, averaging 22.06 during the tenure.
|Lowest averages for openers in the Indian T20 League last year|
|Team||Runs Scored||Average||Strike Rate|
The Punjab openers, comprising of self-proclaimed Universal Boss Chris Gayle and a flamboyant KL Rahul, played contrary to what the Delhi openers delivered. Both Gayle and Rahul combined for a whopping 1103 runs last season (second best) at an average of 45.96. In fact, there were 16 50+ scores in the Punjab team last season and 11 of them came between Rahul and Gayle. That's dominance.
Death overs specialists
Both Delhi and Punjab carry a trump card for the death overs. While the former has South Africa's Kagiso Rabada, the latter strikes with Mohammed Shami. The pair picked a combined total of 33 wickets between each other in last year's Indian T20 League (Rabada 19, Shami 14). But what separates these two marksmen is their proficiency of avoiding getting hit in the final overs. Both these bowlers carried an economy of under 8 during the powerplay overs, but the picture changed at the death.
|Most wickets in the death overs in Indian T20 League 2019|
The Indian pacer conceded 214 runs in the death overs last season at an economy of 9.73, while Rabada gave away 201 runs at an economy of 8.74. The South African, in fact, took a mere six wickets between 1-15 overs but scalped 19 wickets in the death overs. His average of 10.58 in the death overs was the best among bowlers to have bowled a minimum
of 10 overs in that phase.
Players to watch out for:
Delhi - Prithvi Shaw
20-year-old Prithvi Shaw made quite an impact in his debut Indian T20 League campaign, scoring 245 in just nine games at 27.22. Quite surprisingly, he hit more sixes (10) that year than he did last season despite playing seven games less. So as the new season beckons, the youngster will look to get over the ghost of the past and start afresh after having scored just 353 runs in 16 games last year.
|Shaw vs Dhawan comparison: Indian T20 League 2019|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Metric||Prithvi Shaw|
In his first eight games of the previous season, Shaw scored 187 runs at a strike rate of 152.03 and took just 4.10 balls per boundary. As the season progressed, his number came down to 166 runs in final eight games, hitting at a strike rate of 117.73 and also taking almost six balls to score a boundary. With Jason Roy out of the tournament, Delhi will be hoping for a better return from their fierce opener.
Punjab - Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle has always loved playing against Delhi, but the addition of Ravichandran Ashwin for the 2020 edition is something that is sure to keep him awake on Saturday night. While the Caribbean king has hit the likes of Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra left, right and centre, he has particularly struggled against their newest acquisition, Ravichandran Ashwin. The Indian leggie has dismissed Gayle on four occasions - more than any other bowler - and has conceded just 49 runs in 59 deliveries in eight innings.
So if Delhi intend to stop the possible Gayle storm, they know who to unleash.
Stats to watch out for:
3: Punjab's all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is just 3 wickets away from 100 T20 wickets.
4, 6: Shikhar Dhawan and Rishab Pant are 4 and 6 more sixes away respectively to complete 100 sixes in the Indian T20 League.
12: Ajinkya Rahane needs 12 more runs to reach 5000 runs in T20s. He will be the 10th Indian to the milestone.
23: KL Rahul needs 23 runs to complete 2000 runs in the Indian T20 League.
31: Mayank Aggarwal needs 31 more runs to reach 3000 runs in T20s.
36: Karun Nair needs 36 more runs to reach 1500 runs in Indian T20 League.
The likes of Gayle, Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan and Glenn Maxwell have formed a strong batting core for Punjab. And while the top end of the line-up is stacked with a series of hard hitters, the team is well and truly equipped with those who can turn the tables with an immaculate bowling effort. As far as Delhi are concerned, a rather young squad remains a hit and miss. To add to their woes, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant aren't in the best of form and expect Punjab to strike again and pick their fifth win over Delhi in six games.
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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain