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Can new leadership spark Daredevils revival?



Big Picture

One win in six games. A new captain. A squad that has failed, so far, to turn into a team. Delhi Daredevils find themselves in a quite unenviable situation. But, as Shreyas Iyer put it after taking over the team’s leadership from Gautam Gambhir, there is still time for the team to make something of this season. “We have eight games in hand. There are lots of us who believe.”

That belief needs to be backed up with tactical smartness. Gambhir’s resignation, and his poor batting form, suggest he is also out of Daredevils’ playing XI – Daredevils could bring in big-hitting New Zealander Colin Munro in his place, especially if Jason Roy is not fit. It gives them an opportunity to tear up their failed early-season templates and apply themselves afresh to the task of finding a way to bring the best out of what is – particularly on the batting front – still an excellent group of players.

Kolkata Knight Riders will try their hardest to prevent this from happening. The visitors have themselves underperformed, even if not to Daredevils’ extent, and their 3-3 record doesn’t quite reflect how good they have looked when they have won. Given how tight the race for the playoffs is likely to get, Knight Riders will want to string some wins together and gather some steam going into the second half of the league phase.

In the news

Jason Roy (side strain) and Chris Morris (back) missed Daredevils’ last game against Kings XI Punjab. Given the four-day gap between that match and this one, Daredevils will hope one or both of them are fit and available to play. It appears Roy has the better chance – he trained on match eve, but Morris didn’t.

Andre Russell went off the field clutching his right thigh after bowling 1.5 overs against Kings XI, but is expected to be good to go on Friday. With his hamstrings in mind, Knight Riders have looked to lighten Russell’s bowling workload this season – he didn’t bowl at all in the game before the Kings XI one, against Rajasthan Royals – and it’s possible he might play as a pure batsman if he is not 100%.

Likely XIs

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Colin Munro/Jason Roy, 3 Glenn Maxwell, 4 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Avesh Khan, 11 Trent Boult.

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Shubman Gill, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Shivam Mavi, 11 Kuldeep Yadav.

Previous meeting

Daredevils found a way to keep both Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn quiet, but had no answers against Andre Russell, whose breathtaking 12-ball 41 powered Knight Riders to 200. Three early wickets meant Daredevils never got going in their chase, and eventually lost by 71 runs.

Strategy punt

Knight Riders (19.1 overs in six matches) have bowled by far the most Powerplay overs of spin of any team this season. It’s partly down to circumstances: they have lost key fast bowlers to injury, have been forced to conserve Russell’s hamstrings, and also happen to be blessed with an excellent spin attack.

With this in mind, Daredevils could look to unsettle Knight Riders by promoting their best players of spin up the order. At least two out of Rishabh Pant (T20 strike rate of 157.5 against spin since 2015), Colin Munro (142.5) and Glenn Maxwell (151.4) could bat in the top three if Daredevils adopt this strategy.

Stats that matter

  • Knight Riders have a 13-7 win-loss record against Daredevils, and have won four of the five most recent meetings.

  • Sunil Narine may well be the IPL’s MVP. According to ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats – ESPNcricinfo’s new set of metrics to make sense of numbers in the shortest format – he has saved Knight Riders 34.40 runs with the ball in six games this season, and scored 19.25 runs more than par.

  • Daredevils have lost more wickets (14) from overs 1 to 6 than any other team this season, while going at the third-worst run rate (8.05). The first thing they will need to sort out under their new captain is whom to bat at the top of the order.

  • Piyush Chawla is set to play his 200th T20 game.

  • Chris Lynn found some form against Kings XI Punjab, but his numbers against spin for this season remain poor: 60 runs off 60 balls, three dismissals.

  • Robin Uthappa has crossed 25 in four of his six innings this season, but hasn’t gone beyond 48 yet.

Fantasy picks

KKR’s Nitish Rana has made a case for an India call-up with his runs and poise at the crease this season, and he has chipped in with vital wickets too – averaging 33 in six innings, with a strike-rate of 135, while taking four wickets in three innings. Also, he plays for Delhi in domestic cricket and knows the Feroz Shah Kotla very well. All these factors make Rana a smart choice to have in your team.

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IPL 2020 – DC ‘are feeling the pressure’



After the Delhi Capitals’ nine-wicket loss to the Mumbai Indians, Mohammad Kaif, the team’s assistant coach, said that the players were feeling the pressure. At one point this season, the Capitals were leading the points table with seven wins from nine matches but since then have lost four games on the trot, jeopardising their playoff chances.

With the Mumbai Indians restricting them to 110 for 9 on Saturday and then chasing down the target with 34 balls to spare, the Capitals’ net run rate (NRR) has also taken a hit – it has slipped below the Kings XI Punjab’s NRR.

ALSO READ: Delhi Capitals owner Parth Jindal: ‘If we don’t make it to the playoffs I have failed as chairman’

“The players are feeling a bit of pressure,” Kaif said after the match. “That’s going to happen, we expect that. Losing matches back to back is not an easy thing. But we are trying to keep the team together. At some stage, you are going lose form and struggle. We are still backing our main players and, hopefully, they will come good in the next match.

“We didn’t expect that it might come down to NRR. We had won some good matches and thought we would qualify easily but now we have to fight it out against RCB.”

A win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore may still see them finish second on the table but, according to Kaif, the side perhaps took it easy after a good start to their campaign.

“I think this was going to happen,” Kaif said. “We had a good start and [we] probably relaxed a bit in the middle. And of course, injuries to Ishant [Sharma] and Amit Mishra meant losing two of our main players and we had to try uncapped Indian players. That’s why we couldn’t get the XI going.

“It’s a tough tournament. Teams have gone through the initial phase losing lots of matches. Now they are coming back, finding the rhythm and we probably losing the rhythm right now. But we are looking forward to the next match, beat RCB and qualify for the top four.”

In the absence of Ishant, the Capitals have struggled with their fifth bowler. Tushar Deshpande impressed in his first outing but picked up a solitary wicket at an economy of nearly 12 in the next four. Cracks have emerged in their batting as well. With Prithvi Shaw losing form, the Capitals tried Ajinkya Rahane but he too failed to impress.

That resulted in the Capitals making three changes against the Mumbai Indians. Allrounder Harshal Patel came in for Deshpande, Shaw replaced Rahane and, given the presence of three left-handers in the Mumbai Indians’ top six, legspinner Praveen Dubey was brought in for left-arm spinner Axar Patel. But the win that would have sealed a playoffs spot remained elusive.

“We thought playing a legspinner was probably the right way to go,” Kaif said. “We got back Prithvi Shaw, he had a couple of good knocks initially in the tournament. If he gets going, we all know what Prithvi Shaw can do on his day. [We were] just trying to find out the best combination. Having lost the last three matches, we thought this was the right time to change a bit here and there.

“But right now, we cannot go back and we don’t have much time to sit and plan things out properly. We are just going to go and focus on the next match.”

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, Dubai

Pro Tip: Trust the overseas pros to do the job in this must-win fixture for either team.

Our XI: Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Sunil Narine, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Varun Chakravarthy

Substitutes: Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Pat Cummins

Player availability: There is no official news on Andre Russell’s availability yet, but everyone else is good to go.

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Ben Stokes

Stokes has been in terrific form with the bat and since he started bowling, he has become a different player. In the last two innings, Stokes has scored a fifty and a hundred, making it an aggregate of 157 runs at a strike rate of 182.55. He also picked up a couple of wickets for 32 runs in the last game.

Vice-captain: Eoin Morgan

It’s must-win game for the Knight Riders, and Morgan, with his calm and the ability to score at a rapid pace, makes a very good choice. Morgan has scored 350 runs this season at a strike rate of 131.08. With two legspinners in the opposition in the middle overs, he should sparkle, and with a strike rate of 221.87 at the death this season, Morgan could do a lot of damage in that phase as well.

Hot Picks

Shubman Gill: Gill returned to form against the Kings XI Punjab with a free-flowing 57, followed by a brisk 26 against the Chennai Super Kings. Among the six batsmen who have opened the batting for the Knight Riders at least thrice since 2019, Gill has scored the most runs: 633 at an average of 39.56 and a strike rate of 123.63.

Nitish Rana: Rana has been a better player since he started opening for the Knight Riders. He has scored 236 runs at a strike rate of 145.67 in four innings as an opener, and has three fifties.

Jofra Archer: Archer has picked up two wickets in each of his last three games. He now has a total of 19 in the tournament at an economy of 6.69. He has been a penetrative force in the powerplay this season, picking up nine wickets (second highest in the tournament) at an economy of 4.58.

Differential Picks

Varun Chakravarthy: Varun has picked up at least a wicket in the majority of the games. He is the highest wicket-taker for the Knight Riders this season with 15 strikes at an economy of 7. In the last three games, he picked up eight wickets at a strike rate of 9 and an economy of 6.16.

Rahul Tewatia: Tewatia played a huge part in a couple of wins for the Royals, but those were a while ago. He has 224 runs at a strike rate of 143.58 overall, and has seven wickets at an economy of 7.16.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Sanju Samson is an alternate vice-captaincy option given his form – 138 runs in the last three games at a strike rate of 168.29. Not to forget, he is also the Royals’ keeper. You might want to use him smartly if the Royals chase, because the majority of Samson’s runs have come while chasing of late.

  • If Russell is fit and playing, slot him right in in place of Tewatia.

  • If the Knight Riders bat first, Rana is also a vice-captain option. His 87 and 81 came while batting first.

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Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab, Abu Dhabi

Pro Tip: Expect KL Rahul and Chris Gayle to step it up given it is a must-win game for the Kings XI.

Our XI: KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Ambati Rayudu, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravindra Jadeja, Shane Watson, Sam Curran, Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan, Deepak Chahar.

Substitutes: Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, MS Dhoni, M Ashwin

Player availability: There has been no official update on Mayank Agarwal’s fitness status yet, but all other players are available for selection.

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Chris Gayle

Gayle has had a tremendous impact since his entry into the XI. He has scored 276 runs in the six innings so far at a strike rate of 140.5. He has scored three fifties along the way, including 99 in the last game against the Rajasthan Royals. With at least one legspinner and one left-arm spinner in the Chennai Super Kings ranks, Gayle should have a good time again.

Vice-captain: KL Rahul

The leading run-getter in the tournament with 641 runs at a strike rate of 130.54, Rahul has now gone four innings without a fifty. He found some touch with 46 against the Royals, though, and can be expected to fire against the Super Kings – he scored 63 the last time these two teams locked horns.

Hot Picks

Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu has scored 30-plus in seven out of the ten innings he has played this season. He has the ability to rotate the strike as well as take the attack to the opposition in any phase of the game. Since 2018 in the IPL, he has a strike rate of 122.76 in the powerplay and 126.96 in the middle overs. His boundary percentage in the middle overs is an impressive 54.83.

Shane Watson: Watson has been a bit up and down, he has got a few starts but hasn’t made it big often. After a series of low scores, Watson came back to form in the game against the same opponents, when he scored his best of the season, an unbeaten 83 in 53 balls.

Chris Jordan: Jordan has been excellent for the Kings XI ever since he got back into the team. All his eight wickets in the tournament have come in the last five games, after the comeback that is, at an economy of 7.88. In the last five games, Jordan has been really good at the death, picking up five wickets at a strike rate of 9 and an economy of 9.46 in the phase.

Differential Picks

Ruturaj Gaikwad: Gaikwad has scored back-to-back fifties and is looking good for more. He times the ball as well as anyone we have seen in this super Kings line-up, and Gaikwad also looks to go deep into the innings, which means more points.

Ravi Bishnoi: Bishnoi has picked up 12 wickets so far this season at an impressive economy of 7.17. In the middle overs, the Super Kings this season have scored at a strike rate of 114.87 against spin and have lost 16 wickets. In the same phase, Bishnoi has picked up 11 wickets and has an economy of 6.9.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Jordan, with his changes of pace, could be more effective in Abu Dhabi, which has big boundaries, so we have gone with him. Mohammed Shami is an alternative.

  • If Agarwal comes back in, swap him with Ravindra Jadeja, as Jadeja may not get to bowl given Nicholas Pooran and Gayle will be batting in the middle overs.

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