Sports

Capitals, Knight Riders at risk of being left behind

Things have not gone too well for Kolkata Knight Riders since their match against Delhi Capitals earlier this month. Entering that game with three wins in four games, they crumbled in a heap against former Knight Rider Kuldeep Yadav, chasing a huge total set up by David Warner and Prithvi Shaw. They have lost four matches in a row, and are only above Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians on the points table.

Their XI still looks great – but their big names have been misfiring. They’ve had four different opening pairs in the last four games. Aaron Finch firing from the top of the order against Rajasthan Royals gave them hope but he had to sit out of the match against Gujarat Titans with a niggle. Pat Cummins’ economy stands at 12 this season. Venkatesh Iyer, who has been playing down the order in the last four matches, is yet to find form.

Andre Russell has remained their biggest strength in the middle order but his efforts have not come in wins – not even his 48* and 4 for 5 in the last match. Tim Southee, who has been effective in the powerplay and death overs alike, has also been another positive for Knight Riders – his bowling average of 10 is the best this season among bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 10 overs.

With David Warner piling on runs at the top of the order and Kuldeep making an impressive comeback, things were looking bright in the Capitals’ camp – and even more after their crushing win against Punjab Kings last Wednesday – until the last-over no-ball drama in the loss against Rajasthan Royals. Capitals’ assistant coach Shane Watson admitted “it had taken a day or two to digest what happened in the last game” but they have had five days to regroup and recover from the episode. A win for the Capitals, who have the best net-run-rate among other teams currently, would get them right back in the race for the top four.

Mitchell Marsh and Tim Seifert have re-joined the Capitals camp after recovering from Covid-19. However, it isn’t clear whether they are available for selection. Capitals head coach Ponting has also linked up with the team after completing his precautionary five-day isolation after a family member had tested positive.

Rovman Powell showcased his big hits in Capitals’ match against Royals, and he can be a real threat when he gets going. Knight Riders can unleash their spinners – specifically Sunil Narine – when he is at the crease. He has scored just 23 runs in 26 balls against spin while he has struck at 220 against fast bowlers in this IPL. Narine has dismissed him thrice in eight meetings, and Powell’s average reads 7.3 against the mystery spinner.
  • David Warner has the highest strike-rate of 171 in the powerplay this season among batters who have scored a minimum of 100 runs
  • Sunil Narine needs to strike once to tally 150 wickets in the IPL
  • Prithvi Shaw averages 56 and has a strike rate of 171 against Knight Riders, his best numbers against a team in the IPL

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