Floundering Capitals meets Sunrisers in form in knockout bout
The Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad could not have taken more contrasting paths towards IPL 2020 Qualifier 2.
Capitals coach Ricky Ponting wanted his team to play its best cricket in the second half of IPL 2020. But things have gone in the opposite direction: After winning seven of their first nine games, the Capitals lost four. matches in a row.
Smiles returned to their faces as they beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last league game to qualify for the playoffs, but a shy performance against the Mumbai Indians in the first Qualifier meant they found their best XI again. Are you continuing with left-arm closer Daniel Sams, who has an economy rate of 9.50 after three openings without gates? Will they replace Sams with Harshal Patel, which will also allow them to bring back the mighty Shimron Hetmyer? To make room for Hetmyer, do they shut out Prithvi Shaw out of form and open with Ajinkya Rahane, or do they shut out Rahane and keep faith in Shaw?
The Sunrisers, meanwhile, are peaking at the right time. At one point, they were seventh on the points table with three wins in nine games, but now they are on a four-game winning streak, which includes a complete win over the Capitals as well. They know what their best XI looks like, every XI player knows their role, and more importantly, their bowling has done well – only once in the last six games has they conceded more than 150.
However, it is not that they have become invincible. Despite the off-roader Jason Holder acting like a shield, his mid-low order still has some cracks, flashes of which could be seen during the Eliminator against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. And they still don’t have a reliable sixth bowling option in case one of their players gets a day off. But do the Capitals have enough firepower left to take advantage of those problems and reach their first IPL final?
In the news
Wriddhiman Saha missed the Eliminator due to injury. There has been no official update since then, and he is unlikely to play Sunday’s game.
Vijay Shankar has yet to recover from a hamstring injury and will once again be unavailable.
The Sunrisers have had two easy wins against the Capitals. In Abu Dhabi, David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson raised them to 162 by 4. The Capitals were always behind the initial rate in their pursuit, and any hope of a revival was quashed by Rashid Khan, who took 3 by 14 for give the Sunrisers a 15-run victory.
In Dubai, the Sunrisers defeated the Capitals by 88 runs in a must-win game. Batting first, Saha (87 of 45) and Warner (66 of 34) set the stage for a 219-for-2 mammoth. In response, the Capitals were all out for 131. Khan once again proved his tormentor, scoring 3 for 7 of his four overs this time.
Capitals of Delhi: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Shimron Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant (week), 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Harshal Patel, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Anrich Nortje
Hyderabad Sunrises: 1 David Warner (captain), 2 Shreevats Goswami (week), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Priyam Garg, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Abdul Samad, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 T Natarajan
The Capitals should try to play Khan, as winning the battle against him can go a long way toward winning the match. But it’s not an easy thing to do, especially for Capitals hitters. Khan has fired Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel twice in T20. Since 2019, he has taken ten wickets in five games against the Capitals. Your economy in those games? A miserable 3.8.
The Capitals can replace Shaw and Sams with Hetmyer and Harshal. They can promote Rahane to open the innings and Hetmyer can play the role of an enforcer in a middle order who has been quiet in recent games. Harshal has a nice slower ball and is also skilled with the bat. Another kick the Capitals can take is to make Stoinis open the innings; his best numbers have also come as a starter. But that’s a double-edged sword, as it makes the already-failed middle order even more vulnerable.
The Capitals should deploy their best bowlers, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and R Ashwin, in the power play. If they can get a couple of early windows, that will expose the Sunrisers’ middle order. Without lots of explosive hitters in order, the capitals can restrict them.
Statistics that matter
The teams batting second have won eight of the last nine games in Abu Dhabi.
Shaw, in the last eight innings, has scored just 49 runs with a 6.1 average. Three times he has gone out for a duck during this period. Overall, he has eight single-digit scores in 13 innings this season.
Among those who have faced at least 100 balls this season, only Glenn Maxwell (101.88) has a lower strike rate than Rahane (107.76) and Rishabh Pant (109.61).
Warner has counted more than 500 runs in each of his last six IPL seasons. In all those seasons, he has averaged more than 40 with a strike rate above 135.
The Capitals have lost six of their seven playoff / knockout games. However, their only win was against the Sunrisers, in the Eliminator last year.