Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are still struggling to figure out their ideal playing XI and batting order.
He made this observation while previewing today's IPL 2020 encounter between the Eoin Morgan-led side and the Delhi Capitals (DC) in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra started by pointing out that KKR are coming into the match with multiple issues, such as their underwhelming performance in the last match and the change in their leadership.
"Kolkata Knight Riders are coming off a mauling at the hands of RCB, having scored just 84 in that match. They are coming after scoring 84 runs, not winning matches, their captain has been changed and their combination has also been changed."
"They are still trying to figure out their right batting order and playing XI, they don't have Russell and Narine. They are looking down the barrel. This is going to be a very important match because Delhi will bounce back as they are a better team."
Aakash Chopra observed that the Delhi Capitals will be the strong favourites for the encounter, and stated that Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer have had some time in the middle after their absence from the team due to the former's injury.
"Pant and Hetmyer have played a match after their break. Stoinis will also score runs. Iyer does not repeat his captaincy mistakes, he is a very good captain. So, I feel the scales will be tilted in Delhi Capitals' favour in this match."
Talking about team changes, the former KKR player mentioned that the Delhi Capitals could opt to play Avesh Khan or Harshal Patel instead of Tushar Deshpande.
"The only possible change in the Delhi lineup is that they could play Avesh or Harshal in place of Tushar Deshpande."
He added that the lack of runs from Prithvi Shaw's blade could be a matter of concern for the Delhi Capitals, and that they could think of replacing him with Ajinkya Rahane if he doesn't deliver soon.
"I expect runs from Prithvi Shaw because it is a big match for him. If he doesn't make runs, then sooner or later Delhi Capitals might think of leaving him out and playing Rahane. That is one thing that might be playing in Ricky Ponting and Shreyas Iyer's minds."
From the KKR perspective, Aakash Chopra pointed out that the management would be in a dilemma over the batting positions of Tom Banton and Rahul Tripathi.
"KKR wants to play Tom Banton, they are playing him as well but they are not able to open with him. I don't have an answer if Kolkata Knight Riders should open with him because you might be wrong if you don't open with either Tripathi or Banton."
The 43-year-old suggested that KKR should play Banton at No. 3 if he is not made to open the innings, due to Nitish Rana's poor form.
"But if you are playing him, bat him at No.3 at least. Nitish Rana is coming there, who is not scoring runs which is a concern. Morgan is dropping himself down the order, that is also not right."
Chopra reiterated that there are plenty of concerns for KKR, with the most prominent ones being the injury clouds hanging over Narine and Russell. He said that a loss for KKR against DC will open the playoff doors for other teams.
"So there are plenty of questions to address, Russell and Narine's fitness. So I feel Delhi is the favourite and if KKR loses, it will benefit the two teams playing the evening encounter."
Aakash Chopra on the likely game-changer in the clash between KKR and DC
While admitting that Rishabh Pant may not have had the best of seasons to date, Aakash Chopra picked the swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman as the likely game-changer in the clash between DC and KKR tonight.
"I am going with Rishabh Pant. I know his season has not been that great and had an injury as well. And with the role he is getting, he is batting a little down the order as they have a good batting lineup but I am expecting him to fire."
He added that although Shikhar Dhawan carried the Delhi Capitals batting in their last two encounters, the other batsmen including Pant are expected to fire in this encounter.
"Dhawan was single-handedly scoring in the last two matches but he will not play alone always, someone else will have to come, so Iyer and Pant will have to come to the party in this game. I will also expect Hetmyer to score runs."
Aakash Chopra picked the Delhi Capitals as the likely victors in their clash against KKR tonight.
Also see :- IPL points table
"I have already said that I am going with Delhi."
A win for the Delhi Capitals in today's encounter will help them regain the top spot in the IPL 2020 points table and almost guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. A positive result for KKR will make them as one of the favourites for a knockout berth, thereby reducing the chances of the four teams placed below them.
Published 24 Oct 2020, 12:33 IST