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Set for emotional homecoming, can Rishabh Pant & Co. overcome Sunrisers test?

Source: PTI
April 19, 2024 14:37 IST
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IMAGE: All eyes will be on home boy Rishabh Pant as he makes an emotional comeback. Photograph: BCCI

He walked on crutches in one of his first public appearances at Feroz Shah Kotla last year, but when an emotional Rishabh Pant walks out as captain of Delhi Capitals, he will need to put on his 'out of box' thinking cap to stop a marauding Sunrisers Hyderabad in an IPL match in New Delhi on Saturday.

Capitals have had a mixed season so far, but a couple of impressive wins against Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans have put them back in the mix with three wins and four defeats in seven outings so far.


Placed fourth in the IPL points table, Sunrisers Hyderabad have set a different template altogether with two of the highest-ever totals of 277/3 and 287/3, which will require lot of heart and skill to counter.

Hence, 'Captain Pant' will have to use his resources with extreme caution and guile on a Kotla track which will have good bounce and carry, for a change.

Travis Head (235 runs) — IPL's foreign flavour of the season — will be keen to build on his 39-ball century and his partner Abhishek Sharma (211 runs) is no pushover either, with his penchant for taking aerial route during the powerplay.

Head and Abhishek's intimidating strike rates of 199 and 197 respectively will pose a serious challenge for pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and Mukesh Kumar.

Adding to the threat is Heinrich Klaasen also striking at 199, who is one of the best finishers in international cricket with propensity to hit balls out of the stadium, which gives SRH's batting a scary look.

But Kuldeep Yadav's (economy of 6.06) left-arm wrist spin could well prove to be a game changer and in Tristan Stubbs, Pant has got an ideal third spin option alongside Axar Patel (6.75).

Pant, who is himself getting back to the top of his game, wouldn't mind if he can win the toss and opt to bat.

But David Warner's knuckle injury is a cause for concern for Pant and head coach Ricky Ponting although Jake Fraser-McGurk has impressed one and all in his first two matches.

While SRH's batting has been top-notch on belters, their bowlers have suffered a lot on those tracks with only skipper Pat Cummins (7.87) having an economy rate of less than 8 runs per over, which is considered good in today's day and age of T20.

However seasoned duo of Jaydev Unadkat (11.35) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10.45), have both been average while spinners — wrist spinner Mayank Markande (11.23) and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed (ER 12.44) — have been sent on a leather hunt.

The best option for Pant would be to open the batting and go for the jugular against SRH, putting a scoreboard pressure on the rampaging Orange Army.

In case Capitals have to chase, the idea would be to keep SRH down to 210-220 which would be chaseable against an attack which may not be able to hold its own on good batting tracks.

Teams (from):

Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (c&wk), David Warner, Abishek Porel, Ricky Bhui, Yash Dhull, Shai Hope, Prithvi Shaw, Tristan Stubbs, Kumar Kushagra (wk), Swastik Chikara, Ishant Sharma, Jhye Richardson, Rasikh Dar Salam, Vicky Ostwal, Anrich Nortje, Mukesh Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Praveen Dubey, Khaleel Ahmed, Sumit Kumar, Axar Patel, Mitchell Marsh, Lalit Yadav, Jake Fraser-McGurk.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Pat Cummins (c), Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Aiden Markram, Marco Jansen, Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar, Glenn Phillips, Sanvir Singh, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mayank Agarwal, T. Natarajan, Anmolpreet Singh, Mayank Markande, Upendra Singh Yadav (wk), Umran Malik, Nitish Kumar Reddy, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Shahbaz Ahmed, Travis Head, Jaydev Unadkat, Akash Singh, Jhathavedh Subramanyan.

Time: 7:30PM IST.

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