IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils look to shed underachievers tag | cricket | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils look to shed underachievers tag

Under R Ashwin, Kings XI Punjab will hope their title drought ends. KXIP will be up against the wily and experienced Gautam Gambhir, who knows a thing or two about winning the IPL -- having lifted the trophy with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014.

cricket Updated: Apr 08, 2018 00:00 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Gautam Gambhir’s Delhi Daredevils will face Kings XI Punjab in their opening game of the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday.
Gautam Gambhir’s Delhi Daredevils will face Kings XI Punjab in their opening game of the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday. (PTI)

Both Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils carry a decade-long unwanted baggage of being the underachievers. Though KXIP still have a have a couple of bright spots — they were runners-up in 2014 and losing semi-finalists in the inaugural edition —, DD are yet to progress beyond the semi-finals in the Indian Premier League. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

As they gear up for the clash on Sunday, both teams, refreshed and revamped, will be backing themselves to buck the trend.

Under a new and untested skipper R Ashwin, Kings XI Punjab will hope their title drought ends. They will be up against the wily and experienced Gautam Gambhir who knows a thing or two about winning the IPL, having lifted the trophy with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014 when they denied KXIP their maiden title.

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On paper, KXIP look batting-heavy with the likes of Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, KL Rahul and Karun Nair proven campaigners, so it’s unlikely the team will miss Aaron Finch, who is unavailable for the match because of his marriage.

For DD, there can be a little selection headache as Finch’s best man, Glenn Maxwell, will also miss the match and, after Gautam Gambhir, the onus will be on Chris Morris, Colin Munro and Jason Roy to shoulder more responsibility.

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From the looks of it, KXIP will hope to out-bat their opponents and Virender Sehwag, their cricket operations head, also dropped as much of a hint when he said on Friday, “We have players who can hit sixes and fours and don’t believe in singles.” While Gayle and Yuvi can’t be taken lightly even though they are nearing the end of their careers, the likes of David Miller, Marcus Stoinis and KL Rahul can provide enough teeth to the line-up and put runs on the board.

With Gayle likely to open the batting, it will be on DD bowlers, led by Trent Boult, to contain the burly southpaw. It’s here that DD will back themselves, as, along with Boult, they have the likes of Mohd Shami, Chris Morris and veteran Amit Mishra, which gives Gambhir enough depth in bowling.

Kings XI Punjab are likely to rely on Ashwin, Axar Patel — the only player they retained —, and Andrew Tye to rally the likes of Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran. It will be interesting to see how Ashwin handles the pressure of leading the side. For the last 10 seasons, he has watched MS Dhoni closely and it’s likely he would have learned a thing or two from India’s most successful captain.

Gambhir, on the other hand, would like to start a new innings and settle into a nice rhythm, especially with DD playing their first five matches away.