Navi Mumbai: Two teams struggling for consistency, Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings, will aim to outdo each other in a bid to keep their play-offs hopes alive in the Indian Premier League here on Monday.
Both teams are yet to string back-to-back wins this season but neither side can afford another defeat in their remaining league games.
Punjab are seventh on the points table with 12 points and a Net Run Rate of +0.023. The Capitals also have a dozen points and are fifth thanks to a healthy NRR of +0.210, which will benefit them if two or more teams end on the same number of points.
The Capitals head to the fixture high on confidence after an eight wicket-win over Rajasthan Royals while Punjab pummelled RCB in their previous game.
In Delhi skipper Rishbah Pant’s words “it was close to a perfect game”.
While opener David Warner continues to enjoy his purple patch, the second opening slot remains a cause of concern with Mandeep Singh and Srikar Bharat failing miserably in Prithvi Shaw’s absence, who has also not fared well this season.
Although Shaw, who was down with typhoid, has been discharged from the hospital, it is to be seen if the youngster is fit enough to play the crucial game on Monday.
To DC’s relief Mitchell Marsh finally joined the party. The big-hitting all-rounder shook off the rust to star with the bat and ball against RR. His and Warner’s role will be crucial.
A lot will also rest on how Pant performs. The skipper looked in his element during his unconquered short 4-ball stay against RR as he whacked two sixes but hasn’t played the match-winning innings he is capable of yet.
Rovman Powell has proven that hitting four and sixes comes easy to him and he can win matches with some assistance form the top order.
They will have to navigate through a bowling attack ably led by Kagiso Rabada, who is the highest wicket taker among pacers this season.
The ever-improving Arshdeep Singh has been brilliant for Punjab, especially in the death overs, landing yorkers at will while Rahul Chahar has been expensive.
The DC bowling department, on the other hand, was right on the mark against RR.
Young Chetan Sakaria bowled brilliantly in the absence of the Khaleel Ahmed, who injured his hamstring, while pace spearhead Anrich Nortje is also finding his rhythm.
However, the weakest link continues to be Shardul Thakur, who has been leaking runs and has few wickets to show for it.
Against the flamboyant Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the Delhi bowlers will have their task cut out.
The English duo of Bairstow and Livingstone can tear apart any attack as it show against RCB.
Dhawan has been Punjab’s leading-run getter with 400 plus and he will be expected rise to the occasion in a do-or-die game. Bairstow has found his groove after being promoted to the top alongside Dhawan and that is a big positive for the team.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who has impressed with his hitting ability, will need to do more than playing a flash in the pan sort of innings.
Skipper Mayank Agarwal, who has moved himself down the order, has been far from his best with the bat this season. With the team seeking survival, there will no better time for him to play a captain’s knock on Monday.
Match starts 7:30PM IST.