Match Date: April 16
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
The last time Gautam Gambhir stepped on to the Eden Gardens as a member of the opposition team in the Indian Premier League was way back in April 2010. How Gambhir changed the fortune of Kolkata over the next seven years is well documented. The occasion cannot be missed as he returns to the venue as Delhi’s skipper against the franchise that he led to two IPL titles.
Such has been his impact on Kolkata’s brand of cricket that it is difficult to not see his imprint on the field. It was under Gambhir that Sunil Narine became a superstar, Kuldeep Yadav became a force to reckon with, Andre Russell realised his full all-round potential, Robin Uthappa rediscovered his touch and Chris Lynn became known to Indian fans. Now all of those men, along with Dinesh Karthik the current captain, will have to devise a way to stop Delhi and get back to winning ways after losing two games in a row.
Karthik spoke elaborately about the team’s strategy after their loss to Hyderabad at home, and he made sense. He explained the need to retain the novelty of Narine as an opening batsman, and why Shubman Gill could not be accommodated higher up the order. In that case it would make sense for them to try out Ishank Jaggi at No.7. Not only he has the experience in the domestic circuit, but can usually be relied to hold the batting together while keeping the scoreboard moving in case there is a collapse.
Kolkata’s major issue though is the lack of firepower in the pace bowling department. Letting go of Umesh Yadav in the auctions is starting to look costlier with each game, and the injury to Mitchell Starc has not helped their case. Mitchell Johnson still needs a few games to get into the groove and Shivam Mavi has some distance to go before playing a primary role.
Delhi would be the happier side before this clash because their batting unit clicked against Mumbai. The successful pursuit of 195 helped them open their account after two losses, with Jason Roy, who remained unbeaten on 91, in control of the chase.
More crucial was the way the bowlers fought back to pick up five wickets for 21 runs and restrict Mumbai to below 200 after they had raced to 84 for no loss in the Power Play overs.
With two points each, there is very little to choose between Delhi and Kolkata. But the team that executes all its skills better will finish winners on Monday night.
Played: 20. Kolkata: 12. Delhi: 7. Abandoned: 1.
Head-to-head at the Eden Gardens:
Played: 7. Kolkata: 6. Delhi: 1