At Delhi Daredevils’ opening press conference, skipper Zaheer Khan emphasised on depth, the former India pace spearhead explaining that the team had got fast-bowling all-rounders who could provide thrust at the death overs.
In T20, the last five overs are often decisive, and Chris Morris, Corey Anderson and Pat Cummins have been Delhi Daredevils’ architects there, with bat and ball. Cummins and Anderson came on board this season, while Morris has been delivering the goods since the last edition.
Delhi Daredevils have played three games, winning two. Against Rising Pune Supergiant, it was Morris’s 9-ball 38 that took Delhi Daredevils to 205, with a stand of 80 runs in the last 30 balls. His spell of 1/19 then choked Pune.
On Saturday, against Kings XI Punjab, Morris slammed 16 off 8 balls alongside Anderson, who hit all but eight runs in his unbeaten 39 in the last 10 balls. Kings XI Punjab lost steam in the middle overs and Morris’s 3/23 sealed it for Delhi Daredevils.
“All-rounders’ role in shorter formats will always be crucial. Morris can get wickets in the first six overs and at the death. He has got a lot of variations, and even Anderson can vary in the death with an over or two. Both are big hitters, and with a view to balance the team, Delhi Daredevils have invested in both at No 6 and 7,” Daredevils bowling mentor TA Sekar said.
Last year, Morris played 12 games, took 13 wickets at 23.69 at an economy of 7 and scored 195 runs at a strike rate of 178.89. Nearly half his runs came against Gujarat Lions, a 32-ball 82 not out in a one-run loss. In 2016, DD won seven games and that was mainly due to how they operated in the final five overs.
In those matches, Delhi Daredevils conceded less than 50 runs and made over 60 each time. Last year, when they beat Kolkata Knight Riders, they made 66 at the death to reach 186 and won by 27 runs. The only time Morris failed as a batsman, DD lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore, though he took three wickets.
This year, with a considerably young side, Morris and Co will have to lead the way though youngsters Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant and Sam Billings have provided the starts.
So, will DD all-rounders hold the key against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday?
Anderson said: “A team effort will be important against a side like Kolkata and our batting, including the young players, will have to set a platform.”
However, after two consecutive wins, Gautam Gambhir’s side looks more balanced. And though KKR have won three of their four games, they conceded 58, 65, 35 and 42. They lost to Mumbai Indians after conceding 65 in the last five overs.
Before landing for the IPL, Morris played four ODIs against New Zealand. He was out to left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner. Against RCB in the opening game, left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla dismissed him.
With Kolkata Knight Riders having an arsenal of spinners and with the Ferozeshah Kotla wicket playing slower, Morris will face a challenge.
“That is why we are backing Karun Nair,” Sekar said. “He is a class player against spin and since KKR will play a lot of spinners, he will rotate strike and help us to build a nice platform.” Having made 4 and 0 in the two innings he has played, Nair’s task is cut out.