Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt reckons Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will have the upper hand over Delhi Capitals (DC) in Qualifier 2 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
KKR and DC will meet in one of the IPL venues, that is, in Sharjah on Wednesday, a clash that will decide who takes on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL 2021 final. While KKR got the better of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Eliminator, DC went down to an inspired CSK in Qualifier 1.
Previewing the clash, Butt opined that DC will have a tough task of stopping KKR, who have found rhythm and momentum in their IPL 2021 campaign.
“DC has played some very good cricket but their confidence has been dented. They had beaten CSK four times in a row but they lost to the same side in Qualifier 1. They lost a big match and now they will be up against a side that has been gaining momentum with every win. It will not be easy for DC so I think KKR will have the edge, especially in this game,” the former Pakistan batter said on his YouTube channel.
Praising KKR for their consistent performances in the second half of IPL 2021, Butt added that most players in the franchise have been making significant contributions. The 37-year-old said:
“KKR is on a roll. They have the momentum. Since the start of the second half in the UAE, they have performed consistently and have come up from behind. If you look at their players, Shubman Gill is doing well and Venkatesh Iyer has been outstanding. Further, Sunil Narine has been in exceptional form and is so Varun Chakravarthy. Lockie Ferguson is also bowling very well.”
“Their middle-order batters are also responding to challenges, be it Nitish Rana or Rahul Tripathi. So KKR have been putting up very good performances. I guess they are in with a great chance.”
KKR restricted a strong RCB batting line-up to 138 for 7 in the Eliminator and then chased down the target in the last over, with four wickets in hand.
Gautam Gambhir suggests one big change for DC
Unlike in the first half of IPL 2021, DC’s batting has not been as consistent in the UAE leg. Pointing out the same, former India opener Gautam Gambhir reckoned that Delhi must utilize the services of Steve Smith in Qualifier 2 against KKR.
Gambhir said during a discussion on ESPNcricinfo:
"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 Dhawan 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.”
Smith has scored 152 runs in eight games for DC in IPL 2021 at a strike rate of 112.59 and a best score of 39.