Two sides separated by four points on the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) points table, the Delhi Capitals (DC) and the Punjab Kings (PBKS) face off in Match 29 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
With six of the eight teams having played seven games each, DC are placed second with five wins, behind table-toppers Chennai Super Kings only on net run rate. PBKS, meanwhile, have three wins and desperately need to gather some momentum in the second part of the league stage.
In the first meeting between the two sides in IPL 2021, the Delhi Capitals cruised to a 6-wicket win thanks to Shikhar Dhawan's pyrotechnics. The southpaw negated brilliant knocks from KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to take his team over the line with 10 balls to spare.
However, PBKS hold the edge when it comes to head-to-head record, with 15 wins dwarfing DC's 12. Overall, a tantalizing contest beckons in Ahmedabad, with DC aiming to go top of the table and PBKS attempting to continue their effort to break into the playoff spots.
IPL 2021: PBKS vs DC Match Prediction
There's no doubt that both PBKS and DC are built around their captains.
KL Rahul has put the team's batting lineup on his back many times already in IPL 2021, and is the Orange Cap owner with 331 runs under his belt. The PBKS skipper desperately needs support from the other end. If Mayank Agarwal is fit to play this game, he may walk into the XI in place of Prabhsimran Singh, who was impressive behind the stumps in the previous match.
The other injury concern for PBKS is Riley Meredith, who was struck on the knee in his follow-through and had to go off the field. If the tearaway Aussie quick doesn't recover from the knock in time, his countryman Jhye Richardson could be afforded another go in the playing XI.
Otherwise, PBKS should come into this game with a largely unchanged XI from the morale-boosting win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Rahul's side might replace Nicholas Pooran, who has recorded four ducks this season, with Dawid Malan. But it remains to be seen if the Englishman's game will be dynamic enough for the No. 4 slot.
DC, on the other hand, have been led admirably by Rishabh Pant. The 23-year-old's attacking style of captaincy has had a couple of questionable moments, such as Marcus Stoinis being given the final over of the innings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, but he has led from the front. Pant's fearlessness and aggression have rubbed off on the rest of his team, who've executed his vision thus far.
DC's opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw has been sensational in IPL 2021, as has pacer Avesh Khan. With Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer and Pant himself having come up with sizeable knocks this year already, the batting lineup wears a solid look.
Lalit Yadav might just prove to be an able replacement for Ravichandran Ashwin, while Kagiso Rabada is due a good performance. Veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra has defied age in this year's tournament, and Axar Patel has been a key cog in the DC wheel since recovering from COVID-19.
The contest between PBKS and DC will be impacted by the outcome of the toss, with the chasing team expected to have the edge in Ahmedabad. DC fell short in the only time they've batted first so far, and could struggle to defend a total if they're inserted to bat.
The PBKS lineup is heavily reliant on a few key players to perform, and if they do, the franchise could extend their win streak to two games. But DC, who have a balanced XI and a brilliant record, are the firm favorites for this contest.
Prediction: DC to win