Delhi Capitals’ Indian pace unit will have to punch above its weight against a formidable Gujarat Titans unit, which will start as overwhelming favourites in its first away match of the season, in Delhi on Tuesday (4).
The defending champions have all their bases covered despite Kane Williamson being ruled out of the tournament after a serious knee injury.
The hosts, on the other hand, are looking like an outfit that is bereft of a plan B as it became apparent in their 50-run thrashing at the hands of Lucknow Super Giants.
The primary worry is the composition of Indian pace attack, which mildly put is below par when Anrich Nortje isn’t there to spearhead the attack.
Chetan Sakariya and Mukesh Kumar are sincere cricketers but both lack the pace and variation required to trouble international quality batters consistently.
They could well be lambs for slaughter against a Shubman Gill, who is in rampaging form or skipper Hardik Pandya, who would feast on friendly medium pacers day in and day out.
Khaleel Ahmed had a decent first game but his fielding has been an issue for years and those who have seen him at fielding sessions now know that he drops more catches than he takes.
The drop of Kyle Mayers had the most damaging effect in opening game for Delhi.
The only other notable pacer in the ranks is Ishant Sharma and even DC management knows well that picking him at his base price was more of showing respect to a 100-Test veteran rather than thinking of him as an asset.
Sharma can only be used as an ‘impact player’ but those who have watched DC training this season would vouch that he has lost pace and the skiddy effect is no longer there.
Nortje and his South African compatriot Lungi Ngidi, who both are still on national duty, are required at the earliest.
They will arrive only after the completion of Tuesday’s game and Director of Cricket Sourav Ganguly and head coach Ricky Ponting will have to rejig the combination a bit.
In the batting department, skipper David Warner would like to see the Indian youngsters like Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan handle raw pace better than they did while encountering Mark Wood.
Both looked uncomfortable and short of ideas as one didn’t have his bat come down in time while the other just managed to avoid a head injury while getting into a tangle, playing the ramp shot.
The duo will have to do much better if DC don’t want to lose early momentum.
Against DC, Mohammed Shami and Pandya will pose a different challenge. With Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal and ever consistent Rashid Khan for company, it will be a challenge for DC batters.
DC’s main problem is Indian bench strength and perhaps not having good enough ones to be substituted as ‘impact players’.
The likes of Ripal Patel, Lalit Yadav and Aman Hakim Khan are decent domestic players but without X factor.
It will all depend on how well the foreign recruits shape up for Capitals.
Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (c), Shubman Gill, Kona Bharat (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Rahul Tewatia, Abhinav Manohar, Mohammed Shami, Pradeep Sangwan, R Sai Kishore, Vijay Shankar, Sai Sudharshan, Rashid Khan, Shivam Mavi, Mathew Wade, Odean Smith, Urvil Patel, Darshan Nalkande, David Miller (not available in first 2 games), Josh Little (first match not available), Yash Dayal, Jayant Yadav, Odean Smith, Noor Ahmed and Alzarri Joseph.
Delhi Capitals: David Warner (c), Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Manish Pandey, Rovman Powell, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfaraz Khan (wk), Phil Salt (wk), Abhishek Porel (wicket-keeper), Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Lalit Yadav, Ripal Patel, Ishant Sharma, Chetan Sakariya, Khaleel Ahmed, Aman Hakim Khan, Praveen Dubey, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Yash Dhull, Mukesh Kumar and Vicky Ostwal. (PTI)