Big test awaits Pant as DC take on Iyer's KKR
Skipper Rishabh Pant will face a big test when Delhi Capitals lock horns with table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders, led by their former captain Shreyas Iyer, in a much-anticipated IPL clash here on Sunday.
Iyer, one of the architects of the Delhi franchise's resurgence in the IPL, having taken them to their maiden final in 2020, was replaced as skipper of the team last season after he missed the first half due to an injury. The franchise didn't retain the 27-year-old, who was picked up by KKR at the auction.
Under his captaincy, the Knight Riders are perched at the top of the league with six points from four outings, their only loss coming against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The Capitals on the other hand, after a winning start, have slumped to back-to-back defeats and are placed seventh.
Both Pant and Iyer are touted as future India captain and it will be interesting to see how the two fare. However, the wicketkeeper-batter might be feeling the pressure, having won just one game so far.
The Capitals have lost a close match to new entrants, Lucknow Super Giants, after falling to the other new team, Gujarat Titans.
While the return of pace spearhead Anrich Nortje, who had been nursing an injury, bolstered the bowling unit, the South African, who hasn't bowled since the T20 World Cup in November, looked understandably rusty.
Despite having plenty of options, the bowling department has not looked potent, leaking runs against Gujarat Titans and LSG. Mustafizur Rahman has been their top performer but others need to complement him better.
Their batting unit has also looked out of sorts, with skipper Pant again expected to do the bulk of the work with the willow.
The Capitals will be counting on Prithvi Shaw, who smashed 61 off 34 against LSG, and seasoned opener David Warner, to provide a solid start as their middle order is yet to inspire confidence.
KKR head into the match high on confidence, having defeated Mumbai Indians with Pat Cummins scoring a 15-ball 56.
The former champions have looked like a cohesive unit capable of tackling all situations.
Umesh Yadav has been in imperious form, rolling out impressive performances in the powerplay, and alongside Australian Cummins, make for a formidable pace attack that can trouble Delhi's inexperienced batters. Spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine can also turn on the heat.
Venkatesh Iyer shone in the previous game with the bat but the seasoned Ajinkya Rahane is finding it tough and one will have to wait and see how long the team management persists with him. Skipper Iyer would also be on the lookout for a big score.
The Brabourne pitch has worked for the batters. With the dew factor unlikely to affect the day game, the captains might be tempted to bat first.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ajinkya Rahane, Baba Indrajith, Nitish Rana, Pratham Singh, Rinku Singh, Ashok Sharma, Pat Cummins, Rasikh Dar, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohammed Nabi, Ramesh Kumar, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson.
Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (Captain), Ashwin Hebbar, David Warner, Mandeep Singh, Prithvi
Shaw, Rovman Powell, Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakariya, Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav, Lungi Ngidi, Mustafizur Rahman, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Lalit Yadav, Mitchell Marsh, Pravin Dubey, Ripal Patel, Sarfaraz Khan, Vicky Ostwal, Yash Dhull, KS Bharat and Tim Seifert.
Match starts at 3.30 PM.