Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Sunrisers lie in wait as Capitals look to stay on course for first final appearance

Vettori: Nabi a good foil for Williamson (6:53)

Daniel Vettori looks ahead to the Eliminator between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad (6:53)

Big picture

Remember Sunny Gupta? You know, from the second Qualifier of the 2012 season? When Delhi (then Daredevils, now Capitals) left out Morne Morkel, the Purple Cap holder at the time, and played the little-known aforementioned offspinner, who had never featured in the IPL before?

Still don't remember? Here, have a look at the scorecard.

We're in May 2019 now, seven years on from that landmark day, and Delhi, a rebranded Delhi, are finally back in the IPL playoffs. The name change seems to have done them no harm as far as getting to the playoffs is concerned, but will it change their luck at the pointy end of the tournament? Their record so far in semifinal and playoff matches reads: P4, L4.

Thanks to the fine margins of an exceptionally competitive season, Capitals find themselves in the Eliminator even though they ended the league stage with the same points as the two teams in Qualifier 1. There they face a team that ended up on the right side of another net run-rate logjam, Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The venue is Visakhapatnam, ostensibly a neutral one, but one that has previously served as a secondary home ground for Sunrisers, who have won three and lost two of their matches here. It's often a low-scoring ground - the average first-innings total here is 146, in T20I and IPL games since 2013 - and both seamers (economy rate of 7.0, strike rate of 21.2) and spinners (7.2, 19.8) have good numbers here in the same period.

Three of the last five IPL games in Vizag have produced first-innings totals of less than 140 - though there was also one of 206, by Mumbai Indians in 2016 - and in February this year, India very nearly defended 126 against Australia thanks to some Jasprit Bumrah magic.

If the pitch plays true to type, it should favour Sunrisers rather than Capitals, who through this season have preferred tracks that allow their batsmen to go out and hit without second-guessing themselves. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi - who's already had one terrific game against Capitals' many left-hand batsmen - on a slow turner isn't their ideal kind of match-up.

Then again, Capitals have a fairly robust attack themselves - no Kagiso Rabada anymore, though - and Sunrisers come into this game having won only one of their last five matches. They are without David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, their two biggest run-getters this season, and bar Manish Pandey, most of their other batsmen aren't in any kind of form.

Capitals, on the other hand, have won seven of their last nine games, losing only to the two teams that finished above them on the table. They have form and momentum on their side, but can they overcome tricky conditions - if such is the case - and overturn their own playoffs history?

Likely XIs

Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Colin Ingram, 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Keemo Paul/Chris Morris, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Ishant Sharma

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Kane Williamson (capt), 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Khaleel Ahmed, 11 Sandeep Sharma/Siddarth Kaul/Basil Thampi

Previous meeting

It was back on April 14, in Hyderabad, and forties from Colin Munro and Shreyas Iyer took Capitals to 155 for 7. But David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put together another big stand at the top for Sunrisers, this one of 72 runs. Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Keemo Paul, however, shared the ten wickets around to five Capitals a 39-run win.

Strategy punt

  • Sunrisers have a fairly settled bowling combination, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Rashid and Nabi more or less certain to play. The third seamer's slot, however, remains up for grabs, with Sandeep Sharma, Basil Thampi and Siddarth Kaul the likely contenders. Whom should they pick?
    The choice could come down to who's done best in the death (16-20) overs. Thampi is the incumbent, having featured in Sunrisers' last two league games, but those are the only two games he's played all season. He didn't bowl in the death against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and his one over in that phase against Mumbai Indians went for 17.
    Both Sandeep (9.2) and Kaul (10.5) have been expensive in the Powerplay overs this season, while Kaul (7.5) has been marginally better than Sandeep (8.1) in the middle overs. At the death, though, there's been one clear winner between the two, with Sandeep (7.4) returning the best economy rate of all the Sunrisers bowlers (Khaleel and Rashid have also conceded less than eight an over), and Kaul leaking 11.4 runs per over.

  • Axar Patel has been terrific against right-hand batsmen this season (economy rate of 5.84) but nowhere near as good against left-handers, who've hit him for 118 runs in 69 balls (10.26 per over) while only being dismissed once. Sunrisers have an almost exclusively right-handed line-up, so they could look to play Abhishek Sharma ahead of Yusuf Pathan in order to unsettle Axar. And it isn't just Axar; Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and Keemo Paul have all done significantly better against right-hand batsmen than against left-handers this season.

Stats that matter

  • Overall, Sunrisers have a 9-5 head-to-head record against Capitals.

  • Rishabh Pant has a monster record against Bhuvneshwar and Rashid, scoring a combined 111 runs against them off only 57 balls, while being dismissed once. He's been less successful against Sandeep Sharma, though, only scoring 22 off 22 balls against him without being dismissed.

  • Sunrisers (7.3) and Delhi Capitals (7.8) ended the league stage with the best Powerplay economy rates of all the teams this season. Sunrisers and Capitals were second- and third-best respectively in both the middle and death overs, with only Super Kings ahead of them in those phases.

Capitals 2nd innings Partnerships

1st66S DhawanPP Shaw
2nd18SS IyerPP Shaw
3rd3RR PantPP Shaw
4th24C MunroRR Pant
5th0AR PatelRR Pant
6th40SE RutherfordRR Pant
7th7KMA PaulRR Pant
8th3A MishraKMA Paul
9th4TA BoultKMA Paul