Following a disastrous start to the IPL campaign this season, Delhi Daredevils slumped to the last spot in the league log. As a consequence, Gautam Gambhir chose to step down from captaincy and the responsibilities have fallen on the shoulders of youngster Shreyas Iyer.
The middle order batsman will lead Delhi for the first time on Friday, when they welcome Kolkata Knight Riders for a crucial match at their home ground. Another loss from this fixture might end all hopes for Delhi, but should they win, that will be a huge morale booster for Iyer’s boys. The new skipper, in fact, sounded positive after taking over the charge, “We have eight games in hand. There are lots of us who believe.”
Interestingly, both team’s last games were against Kings XI Punjab, and the two teams ended on same sides of the result. Batting first against the Daredevils, Ravichandran Ashwin’s Punjab failed to register a big total and could set a target of only 144. But, Gambhir and co never looked comfortable in the chase. Barring Iyer, everyone struggled and the result was a four run defeat for the last boys of IPL 2018.
Kolkata, on the other hand, played their last match six days ago. They managed to put 191 on board, thanks to some heavy hitting from Chris Lynn and Dinesh Karthik. But, in a rain-curtailed match, some fabulous hitting from Lokesh Rahul and Chris Gayle ensured a victory (D/L method) for Kings XI Punjab.
Following the captaincy debacle, there is a chance of some changes in the Delhi Daredevils starting lineup. In the foreigners’ spots, Jason Roy should return to open the innings and Daniel Christian will be pushed to the bench. Roy and Chris Morris missed the last match due to sickness, and the latter is probably still not fit. Moreoever, Morris’s substitute Liam Plunkett bowled beautifully against Punjab and he should retain his place. Amit Mishra may also make way for Shahbaz Nadeem or Jayant Yadav.
For Kolkata, even with the last match defeat, there is a very slim chance of any shuffling. The team look settled and Karthik will continue relying on this squad to deliver a win at Delhi. Especially, the spin trio of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla will be most important for Knight Riders. Andre Russell, however, might not bowl. He got a minor injury against Punjab and it will be wise to keep him fit for the rest of the season.
Delhi Daredevils: Jason Roy, Gautam Gambhir, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant (Wk), Shreyas Iyer (C), Glenn Maxwell, Rahul Tewatia, Liam Plunkett, Shahbaz Nadeem, Avesh Khan, Trent Boult.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C & Wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Tom Curran, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav.