Two victorious sides from Saturday (March 30). Two sides with two victories in three matches. Two sides that have never won the IPL, and are known for being perennial underachievers.
One of the two sides will be taking another positive step this season, increasing their hopes for revival. Will that be Kings XI Punjab or Delhi Capitals?
Punjab have the home advantage. They were strong in Mohali last year before their campaign derailed when they shifted to Indore. They've started this season's home run with a victory over the fancied Mumbai Indians.
Punjab lost to Kolkata Knight Riders before that game, but their batting has been strong in all three matches. Chris Gayle is in fine hitting form, Mayank Agarwal's confidence is at an all-time high, as was evident against Mumbai. David Miller and Sarfaraz Khan have also chipped in, while KL Rahul found form with an unbeaten half-century in the Mumbai chase. He started slow, but gave himself time to emerge on top.
Punjab need their pacers to bowl better. Mohammed Shami, Hardus Viljeon and Andrew Tye conceded more than 40 each against Mumbai, and have leaked runs at the death. R Ashwin has been fairly tidy, while M Ashwin made a successful Punjab debut with a couple of strikes on Saturday. The spin combination is unlikely to change, but Punjab might be considering a change in the pace unit.
Delhi, meanwhile, will be on a high after the thrilling Super Over finish. Kagiso Rabada is the talk of the town, but there were more heroes in the game against KKR. Prithvi Shaw took a giant step towards bigger things. Harshal Patel bowled well, until Delhi ran into Andre Russell. There's little anyone can do when Russell gets going, so it's hard to be critical of Delhi's bowling.
Delhi will want their middle order to get better. The game should have never gone into the Super Over, but it did. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant's roles thus become more important if Delhi are to go long.
Mayank Agarwal: The Karnataka batsman played a beautiful knock against Mumbai, scoring 43 off 21 at a crucial time to help Punjab win. His knock helped Rahul bat without pressure, and will give Punjab hope that the middle order is in safe hands. Captain Ashwin said this could be the year where Agarwal makes it big in the IPL. Would it?
Prithvi Shaw: The teenager could be Agarwal's opening partner in India's Test team soon. Like Agarwal for Punjab, Shaw's form will give Delhi confidence going into the important stages of the IPL season. He missed out on becoming the youngest IPL centurion by one run against KKR, but Sourav Ganguly expects him to score 'many IPL centuries' in future. Can Shaw now do the tougher thing - score consistently?
TEAM NEWS/AVAILABILITY UPDATES
Punjab: The hosts are unlikely to change their winning combination. But then, never count out Ashwin's unpredictability factor!
Delhi: Delhi identified potentially their best XI against KKR, and need no reason to change it. However, Chris Morris injured his ankle during the game, and his recovery could determine his participation.
Punjab: KL Rahul (w), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, R Ashwin(c), M Ashwin, Mohammed Shami/Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye
Delhi: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Colin Ingram, Hanuma Vihari, Chris Morris*, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kagiso Rabada, Harshal Patel, Amit Mishra.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul(w), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, R Ashwin(c), Varun Chakravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye, Karun Nair, Sam Curran, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar.
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Colin Ingram, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ankush Bains, Harshal Patel, Manjot Kalra, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Jalaj Saxena, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Colin Munro.
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First Published: April 1, 2019, 9:53 AM IST