PBKS look for big NRR-boosting win over DC in Dharamsala

IPL 2023

PBKS look for big NRR-boosting win over DC in Dharamsala

by Gokul Gopal • Published on Tue, May 16, 2023

Gujarat Titans became the first team to qualify for the playoffs of IPL 2023 but three spots are still up for grabs and there is an intense race among five teams to progress to the next stage. Meanwhile, Delhi Capitals, who became the first team to bow out of the race, now have an opportunity to play party-poopers in their last two matches.

DC’s first destination is Dharamsala, which will become the 12th venue to host an IPL game this season and is the home base of Punjab Kings for their last two matches. The Kings, who are currently placed eighth on the points table with 12 points, have the opportunity to finish with 16 and move on to the next round, which they have been unable to do since finishing as runners-up in 2014, ending up in the sixth spot in the last four seasons.

The Kings have blown hot and cold throughout the tournament after starting with two successive wins. But they will enter the game against DC with a lot of confidence, having beaten the same side by 31 runs a few days back. Prabhsimran Singh’s century and Harpreet Brar’s four wicket-haul were the chief reasons for Punjab’s win but they’ll also expect the seasoned stars in their line-up to step up at a crucial juncture in this IPL.

For DC, who have been let down by the Indian batters, the onus will again be on the overseas players to do all the heavy lifting. With the Dharamsala pitch unlikely to offer a spin challenge for the batters, DC can breathe easy after struggling on sluggish wickets in their last two games.

When: Wednesday, May 17 at 19:30 IST

Where: Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala

What to expect: A picturesque setting with the snow-capped Dhauladhar range in the backdrop, the HPCA ground is among the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world. But the bare patches on the outfield earlier this year wasn’t a great sight and the India-Australia Test had to be shifted out of here because of this. However, a scenic ground with lush green grass will welcome the teams as Dharamsala gets set to host its first game in more than a year, and also its first IPL game since 2013. The weather is expected to be pleasant with temperatures in the mid-20s.

Teams watch

Punjab Kings

Kagiso Rabada last featured for the Kings on 30th April and has missed three matches since. Wasim Jaffer, the batting coach, said his exclusion had to do with Nathan Ellis’s death bowling skills but the South African pacer is a likely contender for this game considering the pacy nature of the Dharamsala wickets. He bowled an extended spell during the practice session on the eve of the game, bowling with a lot of steam and even troubled Shikhar Dhawan who was otherwise sending the ball to the roof quite regularly.

Tactics & match-ups: Rabada has dismissed David Warner thrice in the IPL and could be an effective option early on for PBKS, although the left-handed batter has struck 89 runs off 51 deliveries against the pacer.

Probable XII: Prabhsimran Singh, Shikhar Dhawan (c), Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sam Curran, Sikandar Raza, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Rishi Dhawan, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada.

Delhi Capitals

Like Dhawan, Warner too spent some quality time in the nets as he cleared the ropes often, as did Rovman Powell who treated pace and spin equally harshly. Although he hasn’t been picked to play for more than a month now, Powell could find a place in the team, possibly in place of Rilee Rossouw. It could serve DC well if they consider the pace of Anrich Nortje at the expense of an overseas batter. But in case of early wickets, it might leave them at the mercy of the Indian batters who, barring Axar Patel, have averaged under 14 collectively.

Tactics & match-ups: Ishant Sharma could be an effective match-up against Dhawan and Liam Livingstone, having dismissed them twice each and also having a good economy rate against them.

Probable XII: David Warner (c), Philip Salt (wk), Mitchell Marsh, Rovman Powell/Anrich Nortje, Aman Hakim Khan, Axar Patel, Praveen Dubey, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Manish Pandey.

Did you know?

– Dharamsala has hosted just two T20 matches since Jan 2018 – both during Sri Lanka’s tour to India in 2022. Both matches were won by chasing sides. Pacers picked up 14 wickets compared to just three by spinners.

– DC have lost 37 wickets against spin this season, the most for any team. As many as 29 of these wickets have fallen against bowlers who turn the ball away from right-handers.

– David Warner tops the list and also occupies the second spot for most runs against a team in the IPL. His 1059 runs against Punjab is only behind his 1075 against KKR.

What they said

“Thanks for reminding, laughs (about finishing sixth the last four times). But that’s the plan, to go into the playoffs. We’ve lost some very close ones and that’s the beauty of the tournament. Those crucial games hurt you or help you in qualification. It’s simple mathematics for us, to win both straight.” – Wasim Jaffer, batting coach of PBKS.

“You’re still trying to find the best combination and when you’re not winning it’s never easy. With any franchise you look around, Indian players if they don’t have a good season, it’s always tough. No matter how good your overseas players are, like we have, it’s not easy. Rishabh [Pant] obviously was a big miss for us.” – Ajit Agarkar, assistant coach of DC.

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