Des­per­atekxip,dd go­for­points

Pun­jab will seek to ad­dress shaky bowl­ing and Delhi a be­low­par bat­ting in bat­tle of teams in bot­tom half

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - WORLD - Ashutosh Sharma

:As Delhi Dare­dev­ils and Kings XI Pun­jab face off in IPL 2017 at the PCA Sta­dium on Sun­day, stakes will be high for both the sides. Both were beaten com­pre­hen­sively in the Fri­day dou­ble-header, by Kolkata Knight Rid­ers and Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad re­spec­tively, and a loss here can mean the race for a play­off berth will get harder.

Hosts Kings XI Pun­jab’s strug­gles have been wors­ened by the lack­lus­tre per­for­mances of the bowlers. Shaun Marsh, who scored a 50-ball 84 on Fri­day night, con­ceded the team was out­played in all three as­pects of the game de­spite Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad drop­ping a few catches.

Kings XI Pun­jab bowlers failed to check the flow of runs and in the end a tar­get of 200 plus proved dif­fi­cult to chase. Marsh waged a lone bat­tle and threat­ened to take the game away from SRH briefly be­fore the vis­i­tors reined in KXIP.

ISHANT STRUG­GLES

Ishant Sharma, who went un­sold at the player auc­tions and was on way to Eng­land to play County cricket, was roped in by KXIP to bol­ster the pace at­tack. The most ex­pe­ri­enced bowler in the KXIP line-up started well, con­ced­ing just three runs in the open­ing over.

But things went down­hill from there as SRH skip­per David Warner and fel­low opener Shikhar Dhawan helped them­selves to quick-fire half cen­turies. In the end, Ishant Sharma, who is yet to take a wicket in IPL 10, con­ceded 41 runs from 4 overs.

Pace bowler Anureet Singh con­ceded 26 runs in two overs and spin­ners Axar Pa­tel and KC Cari­appa also went for plenty as Warner-dhawan and later Kane Wil­liamson at­tacked the bowl­ing.

In con­trast, not only did SRH kept things tight, their bowlers kept strik­ing at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. Against Mum­bai In­di­ans too, de­spite set­ting a tar­get of 198, Kings XI Pun­jab lost by eight wick­ets with 27 balls to spare. Kings XI also missed in-from opener Hashim Amla due to a ham­string in­jury.

How­ever, Marsh still felt hope­ful of a turn­around. “We can do a quick change around against Delhi Dare­dev­ils. We just have to play bet­ter. The guys have been train­ing hard and we can get on a bit of roll from Sun­day,” the Aussie bats­man said.

DD’S DODGY BAT­TING

If KXIP think tank frets over the bowl­ing line-up for Sun­day, the Za­heer Khan-led Delhi Dare­dev­ils, who have just two wins and are at the bot­tom of the ta­ble, will be wor­ried about the top-or­der bat­ting.

On Fri­day, with Sanju Sam­son (60) and Shreyas Iyer (47) bat­ting well, Delhi Dare­dev­ils at one point looked good to post a tar­get of over 180. But in the end 160 proved sub-par and KKR had lit­tle trou­ble in chas­ing.

Rishabh Pant has also played a cou­ple of cameos, but till now the team has failed to fire in uni­son. A loss on Sun­day may bring the cur­tains down on Delhi Dare­dev­ils’ cam­paign. For Pun­jab, a win might pro­vide mo­men­tum but a loss will cer­tainly dent their play­off chances.

Kings XI Pun­jab are sixth in the points ta­ble with six points from eight matches while Delhi are at the bot­tom with four points from seven games.

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