With Chennai Super Kings awaiting the second Indian Premier League finalists in Dubai, KKR and DC will battle it out for this spot at Sharjah on Wednesday.
Delhi Capitals, who are eyeing their second consecutive IPL final appearance, faced a heartbreaking loss in Qualifier 1. Fortunately for them, they have another shot at the final due to finishing in the top two.
In the first qualifier, DC had posted 172/5 on the board on the back of fifties from Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and fine late hitting from Shimron Hetmyer. Defending the total, they had done a good job to get the equation to 35 off 18. However, a questionable call to hand the ball to Tom Curran over Kagiso Rabada to defend 13 off the last over cost them the game.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been on an incredible run in the UAE leg. They continued their form in the Eliminator, where they edged past Virat Kohli’s RCB side to advance in the second qualifier.
The Knight Riders did an outstanding job to restrict RCB to 138/7, with Sunil Narine picking four wickets and Lockie Ferguson claiming two. While chasing the target, KKR found themselves in a tricky situation, but Narine’s timely 15-ball-26 eased out the chase as Shakib Al Hasan took them over the line with two balls to spare.
DC had hammered KKR in the first leg of the season, but KKR avenged that with a three-wicket victory in the UAE leg. With the finals spot on the line, expect a hard-fought contest between the two high-quality teams.
Prithvi Shaw has been outstanding for Delhi Capitals at the top of the order. The opening batter has smashed 461 runs in 14 innings this season at an average of 32.92 while striking at a fantastic rate of 159.51. He also has registered four fifties in the tournament and is coming off 48 and 60 in the last two games. Shaw’s ability to take on spin could come handy if he can get past Lockie Ferguson.
Sunil Narine has been the most impactful player for Kolkata Knight Riders in their history as he has picked 14 wickets in the IPL 2021 at just 6.41 runs per over and is coming off an incredible spell of 4/21 against RCB in the Eliminator. Earlier, Narine has also played two match-defining knocks with the bat – 26 off 15 in the eliminator and 21 off 10 against DC.
After a dreadful performance in the first half of the campaign, Shubman Gill has found his form and the right approach in this leg. He has been exceptional on tricky batting pitches and has scored 57, 56 and 29 in the last three games. In his overall T20 career, Gill has scored 1598 runs averaging 31.33 at a strike rate of 126.62. His effortless game against high-end pace makes him one of the key players against DC.
Arguably the most underrated bowler of the IPL 2021, Anrich Nortje has been magnificent for DC in the UAE leg. The South African speedster has picked 10 wickets in seven games at 5.92 rpo and a wicket every 15.8 balls. KKR batting unit has high-end pace suspects apart from Gill and Dinesh Karthik, making Anrich Nortje a key factor in this contest.
As far as head to head record is concerned, Both the teams share a neck and neck rivalry, with KKR leading slightly by 15 wins to 13. DC have won five of the last six fixtures in the last three seasons.
Delhi Capitals have a strong batting line-up with Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer in terrific form. The bowling attack has done well, but it can be vulnerable on a given day. Anrich Nortje and Avesh Khan have been very good. However, the death overs remain a concern.
Kolkata Knight Riders have a vulnerable batting unit. Shubman Gill’s return to form is a good thing, but the middle and lower middle order could be an issue. The KKR bowling unit has been outstanding throughout this second leg, with spinners Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy doing a great job and Lockie Ferguson being the enforcer.
Qualifier 2 could well be decided by DC’s batting vs KKR’s bowling. The Riders have an added advantage of playing their last game at Sharjah, while the Capitals will have to adjust from a good batting deck to a slow wicket of Sharjah. KKR will walk into this encounter as slight favourites.