DC vs PBKS – Game Plan 1 – How to stop KL Rahul and the intent monsters at the Wankhede?

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DC vs PBKS – The eleventh match of the IPL 2021 tournament pits KL Rahul’s Punjab Kings (PBKS) against R Pant’s Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The contests between these teams have been a seesaw battle with both of them alternately winning games. Here we look at some game plans that both teams could employ to come out triumphs.

DC vs PBKS – KL Rahul’s dominance at the Wankhede

Players usually develop a bit of chemistry with some particular venues where they perform every time they tend to play there just like Rohit and Eden Gardens, Kohli & Adelaide etc. Wankhede is KL Rahul’s favourite venue, where he averages a whopping 95.25 at a strike rate of 160.76 across all T20s since 2018. The short boundaries coupled with a beautiful batting deck at the Wankhede suits his game perfectly where he has four 90+ scores to his name in the last five games. When Delhi Capitals face off against Punjab Kings on Sunday their bowler’s task will be cut out to dismiss him early as possible.

If you look at the bowler type stats against Rahul, it is easy to conclude that he’s susceptible against slow left-arm orthodox and wrist-spin and the plan in the DC vs PBKS game for DC would be to bowl a lot of overs of those bowling types against him. But the presence of Mayank, Gayle and Pooran simply doesn’t entertain that possibility due to their superior record against those bowling types. Also, the wicket at Wankhede doesn’t provide much assistance to the spinners and the shorter boundaries is a letdown too. So it is wise to target the trio of Mayank, Gayle and Pooran with high pace rather than the other way round.

Here’s DC’s predicted XI from before the tournament.

DC vs PBKS – Exploiting the new ball movement and usage of short balls

Wankhede usually provides a bit of assistance at the start under lights for the pacers and it has accounted for 16 Powerplay wickets in the 4 matches concluded this season. Delhi Capitals pacers have enjoyed some success at the venue with Woakes and Avesh Khan extracting some swing and seam movement. Since 2018 IPL, no one has scored as many runs as KL Rahul’s 920 runs in the Power Play period and he averages a whopping 76.67 in this phase striking at a rate of 133.92. This proves that Rahul is quite adept in guarding himself against lateral movement, the same can’t be said about his opening partner Mayank Agarwal who struggles a bit against the balls that are pitched in the stump line and move laterally. Agarwal gets himself into a tangle with his front leg getting across his body and he tends to play the wrong line. Woakes(if he plays) or Rabada should look to exploit this and if there’s no movement available, the pacers can resort to cramping lines especially against Agarwal who thrives on width.

While new ball movement isn’t much reliable with the white Kookaburra ball, Delhi Capitals bowlers can resort to bowling hard lengths especially against the likes of Mayank, Gayle and Pooran who struggle against them. Gayle is vulnerable against pacy full-length deliveries especially at the start of his innings and the Delhi Capitals bowling attack is well suited to execute it with the likes of Rabada, Avesh and Nortje (if he plays) all having pace on their side.

While DC will miss the services of Axar Patel in the DC vs PBKS game and a few more games in the season to target the right-handers in Rahul, Mayank, Hooda and Shahrukh, the presence of Ashwin help since he can bowl at any phase of the game and enjoys a great record against the likes of Gayle and Pooran and is versatile enough to bowl against the right-hand batters. Pooran has been slotted to come in at No.5 this season rather than his usual No. 4 position which means he’s more likely to face more pace than spin. Delhi pacers can challenge his back-foot game with the usage of bouncers and hard lengths which he has an obvious weakness against with the lack of lower body stability. They can also bowl full pacy deliveries on the stumps at the death which he tends to mow into cow corner and loses shape in the process.

DC vs PBKS – Bring back Hetmyer and persist with Meredith

Delhi Capitals compromised on their batting quality in their last match against Rajasthan Royals by dropping Hetmyer to include Rabada back into the eleven. It backfired with them enduring a top-order collapse managing themselves to a mediocre 147/8 thanks to a rescue act from their captain, Rishabh Pant. Delhi Capitals should seriously consider bringing back Hetmyer in place of T Curran and replace one of Rahane/Lalit Yadav with an Indian pacer. If Nortje is match fit, DC would be tempted to play him alongside both Rabada and Woakes considering Woakes success with the new ball in the last couple of games and the batting support he provides especially in the absence of Axar Patel to balance the squad.

While playing Woakes lengthens the batting, it takes out T20 quality in the middle-order with both Rahane and Stoinis being misfit for their roles. On the other side, Punjab Kings endured a top-order collapse too in their last game courtesy of a Deepak Chahar masterclass and they’ll be tempted to ring in some changes too and would look to bring in either one of M Henriques or F Allen in place of Meredith to strengthen their batting. While it is understandable, they should resist the move at least for this game and stick with Meredith whose raw pace could come in handy against this Delhi Capitals batting unit who are vulnerable against his bowling type.

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