DC vs KKR – The 25th match of the IPL 2021 tournament will witness Delhi Capitals taking on Kolkata Knight Riders at Ahmedabad. Kolkata Knight Riders top-order have struggled all through the tournament while Delhi Capitals have their issues in the batting department mainly due to the mismanagement of resources. Here, we take a look at some key game plans that could help both teams establish an edge over each other.
DC vs RCB: Gill’s struggles at the top
S Gill is a talented young batsman who is earmarked to dominate world cricket in the future. His ability to play quality spin and the sheer comfort he’s displayed against quick bowling so early in his career validates the above point. Kolkata Knight Riders who acquired Gill in 2018 has projected him as the future of the franchise and went on to include him in their leadership group last season. He was groomed in the middle-order in his early days with the franchise and was soon promoted to open the innings later, a position he is a lot familiar with. While he had a productive 400 run season last year it still came at a disappointing strike rate of 118.
He hasn’t had the greatest of starts this season as he has scored only 89 runs from 6 innings with a top score of 33. With KKR possessing a solid middle-order of Morgan, Russell and D Karthik and a good batting depth, it is imperative that the openers start quickly and set a platform for the middle-order to flourish. But the top 3 of KKR aren’t reliable enough with them losing early wickets exposing their middle-order way sooner than expected. Rana has struggled against quality bowling attacks due to his limited skills while Tripathi has provided some decent starts and both these batters measure high on the intent scale.
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) April 24, 2021
Since there aren’t any quality options in the backups, KKR is forced to stick with this trio at the top but they still have the option of swapping the batting positions of Gill and Tripathi. Tripathi loves batting in the Powerplay and has made his name in the league providing quick starts at the top in his debut season with Rising Pune Supergiants. He is among the top 10 fastest scoring players of the IPL(minimum 100 balls faced) in the Powerplay phase scoring at a terrific strike rate of 140.59.
But since then he has largely been misused in the middle-order with Rajasthan Royals and occupies the No.3 position in the current KKR setup. Promoting him to the top will certainly help in extracting the best out of him eventually helping the team. While it is harsh on Gill who is more likely to occupy the opening position for the franchise in the future, the move can be seen as a short-term fix at least until Gill gets back to form considering KKR haven’t had the best starts to the tournament. Demoting Gill to No.3 will certainly take some pressure off him to set the tone of the innings pretty quickly and makes him feel at ease controlling the innings against spin in the middle-overs which he’s quite adept at performing.
DC vs RCB: Promote Hetmyer to the top
Hetmyer is one of the most mismanaged players in the IPL. The Guyanese left-hander has displayed great batting ability against spin over the years but he’s still been reduced to a lower middle-order position where pace power-hitting plays a major role in succeeding in that position. Ponting hasn’t been able to get the best out of Hetmyer in the last couple of seasons with him being dropped without reason at times and have been shunted up and down the order without being assigned a set batting role.
He has found some recent success despite all this seeing off a successful chase against MI and a power-packed display of 25 ball 53 against RCB last game. While he has improved his batting against pace over the years, his primary strength lies in his ability to dominate the spinners through the middle-overs period which is evident by his batting against those bowling type. With Dhawan, Shaw and Smith occupying the top 3 positions, Ponting has stated that he wants Pant to get involved as early as possible with the bat.
Ponting (in CA app) said “The biggest trick that we need to get right is the batting position of Rishabh Pant – you want him to involve early as well. Pant is like Virat or Williamson, if you know he is there at the end, you are going to win lots of matches”.
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) April 14, 2021
While Pant has performed in the No.4 role pretty well in the past, he has struggled to up the scoring rate since the last season. Multiple theories are floating around as reasons for this slowdown like the burden of captaincy, spinners cracking the method against him, etc… Whatever it may be, Hetmyer can be pushed up to perform that role which he’s more ease at while Pant can perform the pace power-hitter role which he’s had first hand experience of and it will also help him bat freely.
DC are unlikely to make this position swap with Hetmyer finding some success at the position and Pant’s rise in international cricket but they need to understand that Hetmyer is more of a hit and miss down the order and the switch will be beneficial to both the individuals and the team as a whole.