Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) stunned Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the eliminator to set up a Qualifier 2 against Delhi Capitals. The two teams will play a game in Sharjah to decide who takes on Chennai Super Kings in the final on October 15.
Since starting the UAE leg, KKR have been quite magnificent. They started the second leg with two wins and five losses which had made them stand at the seventh position on the points table. But, they turned around their campaign with six wins in their eight games so far in the UAE leg. They are now looking like a title contender with several pieces of the jigsaw puzzle falling at the right place for them at the right time.
They also have some advantage of having won a game in Sharjah against Delhi earlier this season. Meanwhile, the Delhi Capitals loss against Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 has exposed some issues within their team. The middle-order had failed which will be a worry for them but runs from Rishabh Pant in the last game will be a big sigh of relief.
The pitch in Sharjah has played more than a few tricks so far in this tournament. Batting is usually a bit easy with the new ball and as the match progresses, it becomes difficult. There will be equal measures of help from the surface for the spinners and the seamers and variation in pace could be crucial with the slowness of the track. 150 could be a match-winning total.
Predicted Playing XI
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (Captain/WK), Shimron Hetmyer, Tom Curran/Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakaravarthy
The West Indian all-rounder has been in terrific form with the ball in this UAE leg and was almost unplayable on this surface against Bangalore in the eliminator. He will be crucial once again heading into this game. It should also be noted that Narine had a man of the match performance against Delhi earlier this season in Sharjah itself. He has 14 wickets this season in 12 matches.
The right-handed opener has had a terrific season with the bat so far, scoring in excess of 450 runs at a strike rate of around 160. His record against KKR is good as well and he has scored four fifties in five games. In Sharjah, it will be crucial for the openers to get a good start and they will get the best conditions to score.