DC vs KKR: New team, fresh opportunity for new-look Capitals

Perceptiveness of the outfit in its fresh avatar will be put to the test as it takes on Kolkata Knight Riders at home.

KKR's Andre Russell (right) shares a lighter moment with Delhi Capitals' skipper Shreyas Iyer during a practice session at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Friday.   -  Sandeep Saxena

With his peculiar jab to the leg-side for sixes in Delhi Capitals’ first contest, Rishabh Pant became the face of the new, dynamic outfit that hopes to generate more success this season.

Having served a reality check at home earlier this week by Chennai Super Kings, the defending champion, it runs into another potent side in Kolkata Knight Riders at home, albeit with a chance to get it right this time on a pitch likely to be slow once again.

Key to doing well here is to bat smarter, Ricky Ponting, the head coach, had underlined after his team’s six-wicket defeat to Super Kings. It meant maximising the scoring in the PowerPlay, and being prepared to graft in the middle overs. It also meant executing roles well.

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In that endeavour, the batting line-up will be up against a severe spin test. Kuldeep Yadav (the left-arm spinner), Sunil Narine (the off-spinner), and Piyush Chawla (the leg-spinner) will relish bowling on a pitch that is slow and offers some turn. Hitting through the line would be difficult, and negotiating deliveries that offer little pace to work with would be difficult.

Pant’s adaptability as well as perceptiveness will be tested. The flamboyant hitter likes to dominate the bowling; after having flopped against Super Kings, will he be prepared to play a knock less flashy?

In what is a boost for the side, Chris Morris is ready to play his first match this season. Morris had sizzled for Capitals (then Daredevils) in 2016, and is known to change the complexion of contests quickly. He will be another big-hitter waiting to explode in the death overs, and a fast bowler waiting to unsettle his opponents with yorkers, also at the death.

Read: Away wins critical in the IPL, says Uthappa

Meeting his match will be Andre Russell, by far the most notable performer from among Knight Riders in the competition so far. His interventions with the bat have proved decisive in both the contests it has participated in so far; in the first match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he single-handedly lifted his team to victory with a 19-ball 49.

He has been handy with the ball, too, having taken four wickets so far.

Although overshadowed by Russell, Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa have been good with the bat, too, providing handy contributions in both matches. They are among five batsmen who have scored more than 100 runs already. Though comparatively modest, their strike-rates haven’t been unimpressive either.

Also read: Kotla pitch slower than in previous years, says Morris

However, despite possessing two wins in its belt, the side doesn’t hold the edge as it plays its first game of the season away from Eden Gardens.

But if Capitals hasn’t learned its lessons from its defeat here — it lost four wickets for 29 in the final five overs as its batsmen attempted to accelerate unconvincingly — it might well spring in a surprise.