Former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Gautam Gambhir recommends the Delhi Capitals to bring Steve Smith back into the starting XI. Gambhir said this before Delhi's high-octane clash against the KKR in Qualifier 2 of the IPL 2021.
The 44-year old feels that the DC lineup doesn't have a batter-like Smith, who can anchor an innings on the surface of Sharjah.
The Pant-led side lost to the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 of the tournament in Dubai. DC were outperformed by CSK when they couldn't defend 172 runs. CSK won courtesy of a 110-run partnership between Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa. A late blitz from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni sealed the spot for his side in the IPL 2021 finals.
However, the Delhi Capitals will travel from Dubai to Sharjah to play their all-important Qualifier against the KKR. Sharjah's pitch has been relatively slow and sluggish this tournament. And that's where former DC captain Gautam Gambhir feels that Steve Smith might come in handy. He feels the side can use Smith's vast experience and skills against KKR's strong bowling lineup.
The Australian was the highest run-scorer for Delhi Capitals when the two sides last met in the league phase in Sharjah. Since then, Prithvi Shaw came back in the side after suffering a minor injury. Rishabh Pant also played Tom Curran as an extra bowler in their last two matches.
While speaking with ESPNcricinfo, Gambhir avidly opined that the Delhi Capitals should bring Steven Smith at number three slot. He said that the Australian can play the role of an anchor in the side, and the rest of the batters can play around him. The 44-year old mentioned:
"For me Smith's record in the IPL doesn't matter now. I think he has to be in especially, on a surface like this because if you look at the top order, Shikhar plays one way, Prithvi Shaw might have the best game or the worst game, Shreyas plays one way, Hetmyer plays one way, Pant plays his own way.
'So Smith, probably, against a bowling lineup like this - against pace & against spin - he plays really well. So, I would definitely push him at no.3 and probably bat around him. Because, you need 140-150 on this wicket."
Gambhir asked Delhi Capitals to leave out Tom Curran to accommodate Steve Smith into the side.
"The kind of batting lineup DC has, they can make 160, or can get all-out on 80-90 as well." - Gautam Gambhir on Delhi Capitals
The former Delhi Capitals skipper was dubious about the DC batters' style of play. He feels that the batters can go helter-skelter, which might result in them being all-out for 80 or 90 runs on a two-paced Sharjah pitch.
Gambhir also opined that the Capitals have multiple left-handers in their starting line-up. They might face difficulty facing the two in-form spin duo of KKR, Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine. The former opener said:
"The kind of batting lineup DC has, they can, without Steve Smith, make 160, or can get out on 80-90 as well. Because that's the kind of batting Delhi has. So against Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine, its going to be a difficult task, especially for the left-handers. So, I would definitely want someone like Smith to put some runs on the board."
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It remains to be seen whether Rishabh Pant will include Steven Smith in the starting lineup in their next vital fixture against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Qualifier 2 of the IPL 2021 is going to take place in the Sharjah Cricket Ground on October 13.