Punjab Kings (PBKS) will take on Delhi Capitals (DC) in the first return fixture of the IPL 2021 season at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday. As the first half of the tournament comes to an end, teams are beginning to make a final push towards the playoffs spots.
PBKS won the last game comprehensively against a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) side by 34 runs. That performance will give them a lot of confidence as their batting and bowling were above par. DC overcame the challenge of Kolkata Knight Riders easily in their last game and got back to winning ways after a narrow loss to RCB.
PBKS vs DC, 3 Batsmen to watch out for
The pitch in Ahmedabad has been better for batting than that in Chennai. However, the ball has gripped a bit in the second innings when the dew hasn't intervened, making a total around the 180 range highly competitive.
Runs on the board become a huge advantage in such situations and with some star batsmen on both sides, let's have a look at three batsmen who could score big in the PBKS vs DC encounter:
#3 Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has had a great IPL 2021 season so far with the bat, scoring 311 runs in 7 games, including two half-centuries. The southpaw has improved his leg-side game and that has led to him scoring more freely this season.
Not long before IPL 2021 started, Dhawan was deemed not good enough for India in the T20 format. With the likes of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and even debutant Ishan Kishan impressing at the top of the order, many believed it was the end of the road for the 35-year-old in the shortest format for the Men In Blue.
But Dhawan has responded in style, not just by being consistent but also through his quick run-scoring. DC head coach Ricky Ponting has played a role in Dhawan playing freely and enjoying his batting and they hope the 35-year-old continues to play the same way.
Dhawan is also the second-highest run-scorer ever against the Punjab-based franchise, having amassed 825 runs, including a hundred and six half-centuries. He also scored a brilliant 92 when these two teams met earlier this season. He will back himself for another successful outing with the bat against PBKS.
#2 KL Rahul
KL Rahul has been an absolute run-machine ever since he joined the Mohali-based franchise in 2018, scoring over 2000 runs for them already. Having won the Orange Cap in IPL 2020 with 670 runs, there were still questions about Rahul's approach and his low strike-rate.
However, in the last game against RCB, Rahul came into his own and paced his innings brilliantly. His 91* helped PBKS post a competitive 179-5 on the board and RCB couldn't chase it down. Rahul needs to continue anchoring the PBKS innings despite talks circling about his strike rate.
Whenever Rahul was dismissed early, PBKS batting faltered this season. They will be hoping that their talisman replicates his performance against RCB in the upcoming game. He has scored 272 runs against DC at a strike-rate of 144.68 including two fifties and will be keen to lead from the front for PBKS.
#1 Prithvi Shaw
The IPL 2020 season was not great for Prithvi Shaw, as he scored just 228 runs from 13 games and was dropped by DC towards the end. A horror show in Australia followed and there were questions about whether the youngster could bounce back.
But Shaw kept faith in himself, worked on his technique with DC batting coach Pravin Amre and dished out an unbelievable batting masterclass in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Shaw scored 827 runs in 8 games at a ridiculous strike-rate of 165.40, including three tons and a double century. The youngster has taken his game to another level for DC in the IPL 2021 season and, in just 7 games, has already scored 269 runs at an outstanding strike-rate of 165.03.
His 82 off 41 balls absolutely destroyed the KKR bowling attack and that is exactly what Shaw is capable of if he is in the mood. DC will be hoping the youngster continues his purple patch and dominates a PBKS bowling attack that has consistently leaked runs.