Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Capitals: Back Capitals to Consolidate

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has been in record breaking form for Delhi Capitals

Top of the table Delhi take on KKR in Abu Dhabi and Matt Harris expects the leaders to strengthen their playoff push.

"KKR’s 84/8 was the lowest 20-over total in IPL history but the issues go deeper than a poor decision at the toss."

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Capitals
Saturday October 24, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Knight Riders on the slide

Consistency is the issue for a Knight Riders side who felt the need to change their captain after some mixed results under Dinesh Karthik. England's World Cup Winning skipper Eoin Morgan was the logical replacement but even he admitted that he got it wrong when choosing to bat first against RCB on Wednesday.

KKR's 84/8 was the lowest 20-over total in IPL history but the issues go deeper than a poor decision at the toss. Selectors are struggling to find a settled side while key players, most notably Andre Russell, are underperforming. Morgan says that he hopes Russell and Sunil Narine will be 'fit and available around the corner' but Kolkata will need a big improvement in all areas if they are to topple the league leaders.

Capitals top the table

Delhi have risen to the top thanks largely to Shikhar Dhawan's efforts with the bat. The opener made 106 against KXIP last time out from a total of 164 where the next highest score was 14. It's not all about one man: Shimron Hetmyer, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer have all made important contributions but they will need to take responsibility if Dhawan experiences a rare failure. It's also been a disappointing tournament for Rishabh Pant so backers of the Capitals need to be wary of an over-reliance on one batsman.

In the bowling department, Kagiso Rabada is some way clear in the race for the Purple Cap and the South African is clearly a key figure once again. Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin can apply the stranglehold in the middle overs while it was interesting to see Daniel Sams brought into the line up against Kings XI. The Aussie left armer brings extra pace to this team and is a much-needed partner for Rabada with the new ball.

Destination Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium hosts its 15th game of IPL 2020 on a ground where the average first innings score this season is 158. That number is skewed somewhat by KKR's 84 but this isn't the highest scoring surface in the competition. The previous 14 matches show an even distribution of wins but recent victories have been more in favour of the side batting second.

One of the benefits with switching to the UAE has seen unbroken play and no issues with the weather. Another hot, dry and humid afternoon is in prospect when Delhi and Kolkata meet in Abu Dhabi.

Capitalize on the favourites

Delhi Capitals' surge to the top has seen Shreyas Iyer's men installed as favourites for Saturday's game at 1.758/11. Kolkata follow at 2.245/4 and there are no surprises among those figures based on recent form.

Despite all their issues, KKR remain in touching distance of the playoffs with five wins and five defeats from their opening ten matches but that's largely due to even weaker displays from the teams below them. There are concerns that Kolkata are going into freefall and, while Wednesday's performance was the worst of this tournament so far, it comes close on the heels of a marginally better return of 112 against RCB.

Narine and Russell may be back and we always have the volatile nature of T20 cricket to take into account but, based on recent results, it's hard to see beyond Delhi here.

Dhawan driving Delhi

Shikhar Dhawan became the first player in IPL history to record back-to-back hundreds as he cruised past three figures against Kings XI on Tuesday. The left hander has top scored in each of Delhi's last four matches and he's an obvious favourite to do so again at around 3.259/4.

Dhawan's dominance will leave some value in the chasing pack with Shimron Hetmyer, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer all likely to be available at somewhere between 4.03/1 and 4.57/2. Skipper Shreyas gave me the profit in the reverse fixture and he's due again so I'll be looking to capitalise on the Capitals' captain here.

Captain Morgan to step up

Over his long career, Eoin Morgan hasn't let captaincy stand in the way of his own performances with the bat and that trend is continuing at Delhi. The England skipper has fought a lone battle at times and I'm expecting that to carry on in Abu Dhabi.

I wouldn't usually take two top batsman bets but, if you can get Morgan at around the 4.57/2 mark, it would look to be a value pick.

Recommended Bet: Back Shreyas Iyer to top score for Delhi Capitals at 4.57/2

Matt Harris' IPL P/L

Staked: 15pts
Returns: 15.01pts
P/L: +0.01pts

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