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Can Delhi Capitals overcome their own pitch? That's the big question as they head into the game against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday (April 20).
Things won't get any easier for Shreyas Iyer and co, for the visitors have all the resources needed to take advantage of the conditions. R Ashwin has been in prime form, leading Punjab from the front. M Ashwin has been a good support act. Mujeeb Ur Rahman has not been used in all the games but has done a decent job in the given opportunities. Expect Andrew Tye to feature, making life even more difficult for Delhi on a slow and low track.
Punjab and Delhi have 10 points from nine matches each, with Delhi having a better net run-rate. This is the time to build momentum; Delhi lost a bit of that when they lost to Mumbai Indians on Thursday. Punjab are coming off a victory over Rajasthan Royals.
The toss is turning out to be a crucial factor at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Mumbai won a great toss, opting to bat first immediately. A total in excess of 160 was always going to be difficult to chase on this ground. It will be no different on Saturday.
Bat first or second, Delhi will want their batting to step up. The best place to score on such grounds is at the top; Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw have been inconsistent. Punjab's openers Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, on the other hand, have been in good form.
Both are sides with not much depth in batting. If the bowlers can get past the top order, expect another low scoring encounter.
Delhi are unlikely to forget the game in Mohali, when they lost seven wickets for eight runs to lose a match they should have won easily. It was the game where Sam Curran picked up a hat-trick, and along with Mohammed Shami led Punjab to a 14-run win.
WATCH OUT FOR
Sandeep Lamichhane: If he plays. Ideally, he should. The Nepal legspinner has played only four matches, picking up five wickets. He hasn't played Delhi's last three matches, but given the nature of the track and the manner of their defeat last game, he should return.
R Ashwin: The captain has been in superb form, picking up 11 wickets from nine matches on tracks that aren't the easiest for spinners. He is coming on the back of a Man of the Match winning spell of 2-24 against Rajasthan, and would be on a high. He should enjoy bowling on the Feroz Shah Kotla, against a batting line up that has quite a few left handers.
Delhi Capitals: Colin Ingram, who missed the previous two games to fly home for the birth of his child, could return to strengthen the middle order. If Lamichhane returns, he could replace Keemo Paul, who followed up his Man of the Match performance over Sunrisers Hyderabad with a poor outing against Mumbai.
Kings XI Punjab: Mujeeb Ur Rahman injured his shoulder while fielding last game, and couldn't complete his quota of overs. It remains to be seen if he has recovered completely. Varun Chakravarthy, the other spin option, is nursing a finger injury too. Moises Henriques was handed over his debut hat last game but injured his ankle right before the toss. David Miller filled in and made a handy contribution, possibly doing enough to keep his spot.
Delhi: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Colin Munro/Colin Ingram, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Axar Patel, Chris Morris, Keemo Paul/Sandeep Lamichhane, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma
Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran(w), R Ashwin(c), M Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Andrew Tye, Arshdeep Singh
Delhi Capitals: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Colin Munro, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Axar Patel, Chris Morris, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ankush Bains, Manjot Kalra, Sherfane Rutherford, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Tewatia, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Jagadeesha Suchith.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul(w), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Andrew Tye, Moises Henriques, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Sam Curran, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Varun Chakravarthy, Murugan Ashwin, Simran Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Ankit Rajpoot, Hardus Viljoen, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar.