KKR and Shreyas Iyer hold the edge in reunion with Delhi Capitals

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So you’re Delhi Daredevils. No, Capitals. Sorry. And you’re facing Kolkata Knight Riders. Oh dear.

Aren’t you a team built on your top two batters and a middle-order firebrand? But you’re going to go up against a team which has wicket takers up front, misers through the middle and whatever Pat Cummins is. Reports suggest he could be the emissary of an alien superspecies sent to distract us with his dreaminess. #Truestory.

Shreyas Iyer once held the keys to the Delhi kingdom. Then it was taken away. And now he’s back, only he’s captain of the other side. Thanks to the hard grind that he went through in domestic cricket with perhaps the most unforgiving team in all the land, he has become one of those people who can read where a game is going before it gets there. There have always been players like that. MS Dhoni for example. But he never had a bowling attack like Knight Riders’. A bowling attack with which a captain like Shreyas can rewrite cricket destiny.

The game has always made room for individual brilliance, and in Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, David Warner and Rovman Powell, the Capitals are not short of this precious resource. The question is can one man hold off a set of champions?

In the news

Pat Cummins‘ DNA has been through extensive analysis and in a barely believable twist, it appears he is actually 100% human. You guys, he’s just like us. Except, he bats like Viv Richards, bowls like Michael Holding, and looks like Tom Cruise.

Likely XIs

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Venkatesh Iyer, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Sam Billings (wk), 5 Nitish Rana, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Pat Cummins, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Rasikh Salam, 11 Varun Chakravarthy

Delhi Capitals: 1 David Warner, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Sarfaraz Khan, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Lalit Yadav, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Strategy punt

Grudge-match narratives only really work in the movies, still Capitals wouldn’t mind seeing the back of Shreyas quickly and there is a fairly straightforward option available. Since IPL 2021, the Knight Riders captain averages 19.5, strikes at 93 and takes roughly 28 balls between boundaries while facing spin bowling. The only problem is he wallops Kuldeep Yadav (32 off 24 balls, no dismissals) and Axar Patel (24 off 15 balls, one dismissal). So, umm, throw the ball to Lalit Yadav and hope for the best?

  • The average first-innings total at Brabourne stadium in this IPL is 189 for 7. Teams chasing have won three of the four matches played here this season.
  • Thanks to the partnership between mystery spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, Knight Riders have the best middle-overs (7-16) economy rate (5.52) in this IPL.
  • Ajinkya Rahane has the lowest average (14.9) and the second-lowest strike rate (107) among all opening batters in this tournament since 2020 (min. five innings played). But the Capitals would know better than to underestimate him given they’ve been on the receiving end of 784 of his runs at an average of 65.3 (third-highest for a batter against an opposition) and strike rate of 133.
  • Umesh Yadav is a powerplay phenom: 51 wickets in the first six overs, two shy of the all-time IPL record. Prithvi Shaw is a powerplay phenom: 429 runs at a strike rate of 170 since 2021, which makes him better than everybody else in the league. Sit back, grab some popcorn and just watch them go at it.
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