The roster we have in our hands for Qualifier 2 of the Indian T20 League 2021 might not be what you would have expected a few weeks ago. Delhi and Kolkata will fight for a place in the final, where they will compete against Chennai.
After faltering at the very last step in the 2020 edition, Delhi have had another fantastic campaign this time around. With 10 victories, Rishabh Pant’s team finished at the top of the table.
However, they failed to take the shortcut route to final, as Chennai got the better of them in Qualifier 1. As for their opponents, Kolkata have done a remarkable job to come this far, after what was a pretty horrendous first phase.
The change in venue has done Eoin Morgan’s boys a world of good, as Kolkata have looked at their intimidating best in the UAE. They won seven matches to set up an Eliminator clash against Bangalore, where they defeated Virat Kohli’s team to further progress in this competition.
Let us take an in-depth look at both sides to see who might have the upper hand going into this fixture:
DELHI IN THE INDIAN T20 LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Rishabh Pant’s boys have been dominant right from the beginning. While they lost their first match against Rajasthan, the finalists of last season then went on to win three matches on the trot.
A defeat against Bangalore ended their winning run, but once again, they did not let one loss derail them from their path. The men in blue made a good comeback to win their last two matches of the first phase.
They started the UAE leg right from where they finished in the first phase and won their first two matches quite comfortably. In their last four league stage matches, they won two and lost as many matches. That, however, was enough to guarantee them the pole position.
Delhi have rarely had a bad day in this season, but things did not work out in their favour in Qualifier 1 against Chennai. Their batters did well to put up a score of 172, but the bowlers were not successful in their attempt to defend the score.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST KOLKATA
It will be interesting to see what line-up Delhi fields for the Qualifier 2 clash. Avesh Khan might have been Delhi’s most expensive bowler in the last match, but he has had a terrific season. Hence, the youngster is likely to retain his place.
The Delhi management have got a bigger decision to make, in terms of choosing between Tom Curran and Ripal Patel. The former made the headlines for being taken to the cleaners by Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the last over of Qualifier 1, but amid the jubilations of seeing vintage Dhoni back in action, one must not forget that the English pacer bowled superbly in his first three overs. So, like Avesh Khan, Curran might also get another chance.
Probable Playing XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (c, wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Tom Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje
KOLKATA IN THE INDIAN T20 LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Kolkata’s start was not half as good as the team they will face in Qualifier 2. They did win their first match against Hyderabad, but things changed for worse from then on, as Eoin Morgan & Co. suffered four back-to-back defeats.
A win against Punjab did not do much to lift their morale, as they lost their last match of the first phase against Delhi pretty convincingly. But Kolkata’s story has been one of two halves, and the second half has well and truly been sensational.
They won three of their first four matches in the UAE, and while Kolkata were on a roll, teams like Mumbai and Bangalore struggled to get going, which helped the men in purple get back in the playoffs contention.
A win against Punjab meant that things were bound to go right down the wire, but with two consecutive victories in their last two matches, Kolkata ensured a place in the Eliminator. In their last match, they knocked Virat Kohli’s Bangalore out to extend their stay in this competition.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST DELHI
There is simply no reason for Kolkata to make any changes to their winning combination. Almost every player played their part to perfection in the last match, and while Shivam Mavi had a poor day with the ball, Kolkata would not drop him after his four-fer against Rajasthan.
They look pretty sorted in terms of their team combination, but the men in purple might be forced to make one change. Shakib Al Hasan, whose scoop over short fine leg in the last over won the match for Kolkata in the Eliminator, might have to join the Bangladesh bubble ahead of this match.
Bangladesh will be playing in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 qualifiers, and their first match is against Scotland on 17th October. Kolkata would love to keep their reliable all-rounder till the end of this tournament, but his availability for Qualifier 2 is not confirmed yet. In case he is unavailable, Andre Russell will be the perfect alternative.
Unfortunately for Kolkata, Russell is recovering from an injury, and Qualifier 2 might come too soon for him. Hence, there might be a scenario of playing the third-choice option as the fourth overseas player. Tim Southee, who did well in the little opportunities he has got in this season, can slot in.
Probable Playing XI: Venkatesh Iyer, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan (c), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell/Tim Southee, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy