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IPL 2019 Eliminator, DC vs SRH: Pant, Rashid battle adds spice to Eliminator

The reading of the Visakhapatnam wicket, which hasn’t hosted an IPL game in three years, will be crucial. There has been talk that it will be batting-friendly.

cricket Updated: May 08, 2019 10:30 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Visakhapatnam
IPL 2019 Eliminator,DC vs SRH,IPL 2019
Visakhapatnam: DC batsman Rishabh Pant during a training session ahead of the Indian Premier League 2019 (IPL T20) eliminator cricket match between Delhi Capitals (DC) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (PTI)

While there’ll be many individual battles that decide the IPL Eliminator here on Wednesday, the most absorbing is likely to be in the middle overs with Delhi Capitals batting, when Rishabh Pant is pitted against Sunrisers Hyderabad’s spin attack led by Rashid Khan.

Pant, despite having the license to go all out and having squandered his wicket on more than one occasion doing that this season, buckled down in the last league match against Rajasthan Royals to see his team through to victory with a determined half-century. Although it came in the face of a small target, the approach was a marked change from what he has done, and is assigned to do -- attack.

Capitals coach Ricky Ponting spoke about Pant’s role on the eve of the RR match. “He has to play with complete freedom. Sometimes, with players like him and Adam Gilchirst that I captained as well, you have to take a little bit of bad. You understand that when they play well you win, sometimes they’ll make mistakes as well,” he said.

The 21-year old keeper-batsman’s season, hit by debate over his non-selection in the World Cup squad, has been a roller-coaster affair. With the Cup squad announced during the IPL, there was scrutiny over his approach, if he was an innings-builder at No 4 – the most debated slot in the Indian ODI team–or one who goes all out to finish the job quickly.

ALSO READ: Delhi Capitals predicted XI against SRH

A couple of blistering knocks of 70-plus saw DC coast to victories. But there were many occasions when he got out, like in the penultimate league game against CSK when he holed out to long off despite DC having made a flying start in chase of a gettable target. Against KKR at home, the shot that led to his dismissal was seen as key to pushing the game into Super Over after Capitals had been in control.

The reading of the Visakhapatnam wicket, which hasn’t hosted an IPL game in three years, will be crucial. There has been talk that it will be batting-friendly. That should cheer up the Capitals camp as the track they struggled most on this season was Ferozeshah Kotla, their home base. It was slow, making it tougher for stroke-players like Shikhar Dhawan, a former SRH player, Prithvi Shaw and Pant.

ALSO READ: Sunrisers Hyderabad predicted XI against Delhi Capitals

Rashid has been on the money almost everywhere despite not taking as many wickets as he would have liked. Though 15 is low considering he took 21 last season, he has conceded runs at less than seven an over.

The worry for Sunrisers skipper Kane Williamson, however, would be that his performance has tapered off. In three of the last five matches, he has gone for more than seven an over with two of his most expensive spells coming in this phase – 11 an over in the last league match vs RCB and against CSK on April 23.

SRH will have to bank on bowling well as openers Jonny Bairstow and David Warner, their driving force in the league phase, left IPL to build up for the World Cup. They will look for early wickets, probably by bowling upfront a spinner who can hold back a bit of pace to unsettle the DC stroke-players.

First Published: May 08, 2019 10:29 IST