IPL 2018: Red-hot Kings XI Punjab look to crush bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils
Thunderstorms are not that uncommon in Kolkata this time of the year, but that wasn’t the only calamity to hit the city on Saturday. Chris Gayle and KL Rahul wreaked havoc on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowlers to guide Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a nine-wicket win in their rain-hit Indian Premier League game on Saturday. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)
Openers on cruise control has been the common theme of KXIP victories in IPL 2018 and they will again be banking on the destructive duo when they take on Delhi Daredevils (DD) at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground on Monday.
KXIP came up trumps when the teams met early in the season, KL Rahul guiding his team to victory by slamming the fastest fifty in IPL history (14 balls).
Value for money
That was exactly the start KL Rahul was aiming for after fetching Rs 11.5 crore in the player auction. The wicket-keeper batsman, who missed IPL 2017 due to shoulder injury, has teamed up perfectly with Chris Gayle. The West Indies veteran arrives in awesome form, having notched a century and two fifties at a strike rate of 170.89 in the three matches he has played so far. The duo was instrumental in taking KXIP to the top of the points table with three consecutive victories.
Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin was pleased with how the two have played. “KL looked like a million dollars, and well, Chris is Chris,” he said.
However, therein lies the problem for Kings XI Punjab. Thanks to the brilliant form of the openers, the middle-order has hardly been tested. Besides Rahul and Gayle, Karun Nair is the only batsman with a 35-plus score.
The opening spell of left-arm paceman Trent Boult will thus be crucial for the hosts and a couple of quick wickets at the top of the innings can do wonders for Delhi Daredevils. They can also opt for England pacer Liam Plunkett to boost the attack.
However, Gautam Gambhir’s side are struggling. The batting has been a one-man show. Rishabh Pant is the only consistent performer with 223 runs at a strike rate of 176.98.
A lack of support from his teammates has prevented the team from posting big totals and that is a major reason why DD are struggling at the bottom of the points table. Gambhir, Shreyas Iyer and Jason Roy have all scored one half-century each, but consistency has been a major problem for all three batsmen.
The fixtures have also not been kind to Daredevils as this will be their first home game in IPL 2018. DD’s power-hitting side though is best suited to the small playing surface of Ferozeshah Kotla, and against a bowling line-up with not many big names, they will be looking to make the most of home conditions.