Confident Delhi face Kolkata Knight Riders

Confident Delhi face Kolkata Knight Riders

After a forgettable opening match, Delhi Daredevils seemed to have discovered the rhythm with back-to-back victories. Their new-found confidence will face a stern test when Kolkata Knight Riders, on a roll, come visiting at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Monday.

Knight Riders, having earned a baffling consistency in the past years, are again looking impressive. They began with an emphatic victory over Gujarat Lions, lost to Mumbai Indians, before conjuring back-to-back wins at home against Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Daredevils had begun their campaign with a defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore before going on to defeat Rising Pune Supergiant and opening their home stretch with a convincing 51-run victory over Kings on Monday. With one of the strongest bowling attacks at their disposal, Daredevils have been able to curtail the batting of the oppositions.

Under a captain with the experience and guile of Zaheer Khan, Daredevils' attack has been able to stifle runs at crucial stages. Pat Cummins has shown skills both at the start and death overs, with Chris Morris and Corey Anderson being the other seam options. Not to forget Kagiso Rabada, who is still waiting in the wings. The spinners Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem have complimented the bowlers well, and can play  crucial role on the slow surface of Kotla.

Daredevils' batting might not match the strength and experience of the bowling department but it has delivered. Their opening combination still needs to be settled, but the new pair of Sam Billings and Sanju Samson managed to provide a strong start against Kings. Runs are still awaited from the bat of Karun Nair, and perhaps it won’t be a bad option to promote an attacking batsman like Rishabh Pant up the batting order. Morris and Anderson have used the long handle well in the slog overs to ensure Daredevils end on a high.

However, there are few teams as complete as Knight Riders. For their aggressive captain Gautam Gambhir it would be a homecoming to the venue that has been the centre of his cricketing career. The former champions, despite losing Chris Lynn to injury, have shown no signs of slowing down with their extensive range of power hitters in Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Sunil Narine, who surprised everyone with his stint as an opener.

Uthappa is fresh from his 39-ball 68 that contributed to Knight Riders’ 17-run victory over defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad. They also have quality attack in Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Trent Boult, and Daredevils batsmen cannot afford to be complacent.

The hosts are eager to build on their two victories, and Knight Riders would provide just the kind of challenge to make it a cracker of contest.

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