Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Delhi Daredevils (DD) present a contrasting picture. Last season, both the teams were placed at the bottom of the table but in 2016, DD under the captaincy of Zaheer Khan, have given a much better on-field performance and are placed third. On the other hand, for Punjab it is looking like yet another season of discontent.
DD will be itching to get back to winning ways but against Punjab they have a problem of unpredictability. KXIP gave a thoroughly professional performance against Pune and Gujarat, their only two wins this season. However, each of the wins was followed by a string of losses.
Against Kolkata the other night, Punjab had a glimmer of hope. Having managed to restrict KKR to a modest 164, Punjab lost quick wickets early on and despite Glenn Maxwell’s fighting half-century, the team lost by seven runs.
Punjab’s first win against Pune was preceded by two losses to Gujarat Lions and Delhi, which was followed by three successive defeats at the hands of KKR, SRH and Mumbai Indians. Punjab then managed to defeat Gujarat in Rajkot, having replaced skipper David Miller with Murali Vijay, but the momentum was lost in the seven-run loss to Kolkata.
If Axar Patel’s hat-trick paved the way for Punjab’s win against Gujarat, against Pune their openers, Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra, led the team to victory with a half-century each. Otherwise, in each of the losses, there has been one standout performer for Punjab. Maxwell fought a lone battle against KKR the other night, while openers Vijay and Vohra have done well in a couple of matches. The bowlers with the likes of Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma have managed wickets and restricted oppositions only for the batting to falter in chases.
Delhi, on the other hand, have been bucking the trend. Their batting line-up has been led by Quinton de Kock with the likes of Chris Morris, Karun Nair, Sam Billings, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant chipping in with runs, while the bowlers led by Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra along with Morris have been instrumental in the five wins the team has managed.
In the previous match, the absence of Zaheer, who was injured, meant stand-in skipper JP Duminy was guilty of not rotating the bowlers as Ajinkya Rahane helped Pune canter to a seven-wicket win.
On Saturday, the onus will be on DD to come out and win against a struggling Punjab. The hosts, on the other hand, will hope the inclusion of Hashim Amla, a replacement for the injured Shaun Marsh, will give the necessary boost to the team’s batting line-up which is yet to play as a coherent unit.