The Dubai International Cricket Stadium will host its first 2020 IPL match when Delhi Capitals, under Shreyas Iyer, begins its campaign against Kings XI Punjab, led by its new captain K. L. Rahul, on Sunday.
Dubai last hosted an ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier in 2019 - a low scoring tie between Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands. This leaves both the teams in a tricky situation as they would enter the encounter with little understanding of the conditions.
Delhi, which is yet to lay its hands on the IPL trophy has reaped success under Iyer as it entered the playoffs in the 2019 season. However, it fizzled out against Chennai Super Kings in the second Qualifier as Chennai entered the final.
Punjab, on the other hand, finished sixth in the last season despite Rahul amassing 593 runs, including a century. However, this time with the Karnataka wicketkeeper-batsman leading the team alongside former India captain and head coach Anil Kumble, a better show can be expected.
Punjab can take heart from the fact that the last time a part of the tournament was held in the UAE in 2014, it reached the final before losing out to Kolkata Knight Riders.
THE KEY MEN
Apart from Rahul, Punjab has the big-hitting Chris Gayle in its line-up along with Indian internationals Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair. A good mix of young domestic players like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh shore up the middle-order. In Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell, the pace department looks sorted while spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Murugan Ashwin have the skill to choke the opposition.
Punjab made some smart moves in the auction by getting James Neesham, Ishan Porel and Chris Jordan, apart from hiring the services of Glenn Maxwell, who smashed a series-winning century for Australia against England in the recently-concluded ODI series.
The form of Pooran augurs well for Punjab as the West Indian blasted a brilliant 45-ball 100 in the CPL.
Meanwhile, veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who captained Punjab in the 2018 and 2019 editions will turn up against his former side. Delhi, coached by Australian great Ricky Ponting seems to have got its permutations and combinations right under skipper Iyer.
In Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw, the side has got explosive openers who can provide fiery starts. With Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane and Shimron Hetmyer, Delhi bats deep and its middle-order batsmen have the capability to bail the team out of difficult situations.
While Ashwin will spearhead the spin department, Delhi has some fiery pacers in Ishant Sharma and Kagiso Rabada.
Punjab and Delhi have faced each other 24 times in the IPL with Punjab winning 14 encounters and Delhi 10. In the last five matches, Punjab has a wood over Delhi by winning four of the five previous matches.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Daniel Sams, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kagiso Rabada, Keemo Paul, Mohit Sharma, Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, R Ashwin, Marcus Stoinis, Anrich Nortje, Rishabh Pant, Alex Carey, Shimron Hetmyer, Tushar Deshpande.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (Captain), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, M Ashwin, J Suchith, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh.
Match No. 2: Delhi Capitals vs Kings XI Punjab.
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai.
Date: September 20, Sunday.
Time: 7.30 PM IST.