Dinesh Karthik (left) and Shreyas Iyer | Photo: |twitter.com|DelhiCapitals, KKRiders
Sharjah: Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will aim to complete a hat-trick of wins in the 13th IPL when they lock horns with Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
Both teams have four points each from three matches and they will look to consolidate their positions on the points table when the second match of Saturday begins here. The first match of the day is between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi.
While KKR are at the third spot, DC is a rung above. The Shreyas Iyer-led DC launched their campaign on a positive note after winning their first two games, but lost their way against SunRisers Hyderbad (SRH) in their previous match.
KKR, on the other side, were at the receiving end in the season opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) before the Dinesh Karthik-led side made a comeback in their next two games to register comprehensive wins against SRH and Rajasthan Royals (RR).
In Sharjah, which has been a batting paradise, all eyes will be on the batters from the two sides. While KKR have enough firepower in their ranks with the likes of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubhman Gill, and Eoin Morgan, DC, too, can't be taken lightly any day as they boast of Rishabh Pant, Iyer, Marcus Stoinis, Shikhar Dhawan, and Shimron Hetmyer. However, Hetmyer is yet to fire and similar is the case of KKR's Narine.
Keeping the batting aside, both the teams' bowlers will have to deliver all the goods from their armory as the track in Sharjah might not be as helpful for them as it has been at the other two venues this year.
While KKR bowling looks pretty settled with Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, DC bowlers need to step up against a quality batting side. Barring the first game, Cummins has been KKR's go to man and the Aussie quick has led them from the front.
They came all gun-blazing against RR in their previous game and the team management will bank on their show for a win on Saturday.
In the spin department, Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy will once again share the spin workload.
On the other side, DC's bowling has been lacklustre so far. Except South African pacer Kagiso Rabada, the other pacers - Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, and Mohit Sharma have not lived up to the expectation. While Rabada is sure for another game on Friday, it remains to be seen what bowling combination the DC team management prefer against KKR.
Moreover, the injury of ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been a big blow for them and if the off-spinner makes a comeback, it will further bolster their spin attack along with Amit Mishra and Axar Patel, whoever of the two gets a chance.
As both sides boast of some massive hitters in their ranks, the contest could turn out to be another run feast on a batting friendly pitch of the small Sharjah ground.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant, Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Alex Carey, Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Ali Khan