Quite unexpectedly, it was a ‘Shubh Aarambh’ to IPL 2022 for Gujarat Titans when they beat the other new entrant – Lucknow Super Giants – in their opening encounter of the season. But their real test as to where they stand with their bizarre mix of players assembled comes against Delhi Capitals on Saturday evening.
Much like Lucknow, Delhi still don’t have their best XI available at their disposal – with two of their key Australian players still not with the squad. Yet, in the previous game, they showed how strong they stand with their back-up options and depth. In fact, for both teams, the heartier news apart from their respective victories in their season openers has been the coming good of players who they are lesser-dependent on – Varun Aaron’s pace, Rahul Tewatia’s finishing and Abhinav Manohar’s power-hitting came through in Gujarat’s victory while Lalit Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav shone through for Delhi Capitals.
The season is heading into its second week and unfortunately, as the trend has been so far, toss will continue to play a critical role in the evening encounter at the MCA Stadium in Pune. The only time a team has won despite batting first has been in the only match played in Pune. For as much as the early destruction caused by the Rajasthan Royals’ pacers had Sunrisers Hyderabad on the mat that evening, as the dew settled in, it made life easier for SRH who were otherwise staring at a much bigger defeat.
There will be a selection conundrum for both teams. With dew being a factor, spinners could have a lesser role to play in the second innings. But for the team that wins the toss, on a fairly big ground, tweakers could be an effective wicket-taking option. More than Gujarat, it is a selection dilemma that Delhi might have to deal with, having played three spin options in the previous game – all of whom played a useful part in the victory. With a need for a fourth pace-bowling option, one of the key players from their previous win – Lalit Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav – might have to sit out.
When:Saturday, April 2, 2022, 7:30 IST
Where: Gujarat Titans vs Delhi Capitals, MCA Stadium, Pune
What to expect: The weather conditions are expected to be more pleasant – fairly cooler and less humid than in Mumbai, which means there will be lesser dew to contend with. If the previous contest at the venue is any indicator, pacers will have some assistance but dew is still expected to play a part in the contest.
Tactics & Matchups: Rashid Khan will be the key to break the back of Delhi Capitals’ middle order, which includes Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel, especially if Gujarat Titans have to defend the score with a wet ball. Rashid has dismissed Pant twice in 71 balls, leaking only 78 runs
Probable XI:Shubhman Gill, Matthew Wade (wk), Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Abhinav Manohar, Rashid Khan, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron
Unavailable:David Warner, Mitchell Marsh
Tactics & Matchups:In the absence of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, a lot rides on Prithvi Shaw to help DC to a strong start. However, against an on-fire Mohammed Shami, he will have a tricky contest to face, especially against the incoming delivery. Since January 2019, Mohammed Shami has a strike rate of 31.1 in the powerplay in IPL, with an economy rate of 6.90
Probable XI:Prithvi Shaw, Tim Siefert, Mandeep Singh/Sarfaraz Khan, Rishabh Pant (c/wk), Rovman Powell, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav/Lalit Yadav, Mustafizur Rahman/Lungi Ngidi, Khaleel Ahmed
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What they said:
“Mostly, I’ll bat at number four, because I want to take pressure with my experience so that the others can play freely. We want to win as a team and nobody can take the contribution away from anyway.” – Hardik Pandya, Gujarat Titans captain after the win in the opening game