Back Pant to Punish Punjab

Punjab Kings v Delhi Capitals
Sunday May 2nd, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Gayle storm lifts Punjab

Punjab Kings’ comfortable victory over RCB on Friday proved two things. Struggling sides can still beat the top teams in the shortest form of the game and you should never write off Chris Gayle. KL Rahul may have top scored with a brilliant, undefeated 91 but the big Jamaican’s 46 from 24 balls set the tone for Punjab’s innings.

With Mayank Agarwal injured, Gayle will need to find some consistency and there will be concerns that he and Rahul were the only two players in the top six to get into double figures.

Kings’ 179/5 was always going to be a challenging total but Harpreet Brar removed any doubt as he dismissed Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB De Villers in the space of seven balls. The bowling attack responded but Punjab’s batting remains a concern.

Delhi back on track

Delhi Capitals responded to the disappointment of a one-run loss to Bangalore as they eased past KKR last time out. Orange Cap contender Shikhar Dhawan was back in the runs but the big positive saw a return to form by Prithvi Shaw. Dhawan and Shaw put on 132 for the first wicket with the latter making 82 from 41 balls.

Selectors resisted the temptation to make changes and, with Steve Smith not called upon to bat and Marcus Stoinis making the winning runs, we can expect the same XI, barring injury.

Everything looks sound in the Capitals’ camp but Stoinis as a sixth bowling option could be put under more pressure if Punjab keep wickets intact.

Mixed Returns at Ahmedabad

Both sides are playing their third game of the tournament at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals have identical, 50% records on this ground with one win and one defeat each.

The average first innings score across four games is 156 which is considerably lower than the 174 made in T20 internationals here. Wins at IPL 14 have been evenly split between the chasing side and the team taking first knock.

Those are mixed statistics but first innings scores in excess of 170 have been enough to claim the points on this surface so it could be a night to bat first and bat big.

Sunday’s Name-Change Derby sees Delhi Capitals lead the match result market at 1.758/11. Punjab Kings follow at 2.111/10 and there are no surprises among those numbers. Delhi are in a solid second place with five wins from seven while Punjab are currently among four sides scrapping for the final playoff slot.

The Capitals have greater depth in their batting unit and are more likely to recover from any early loss of wickets. In the case of the Kings, losing KL Rahul and Chris Gayle early is likely to hand the points to Delhi, especially if Mayank Agarwal continues to miss out.

Anything can happen but based on those two batting line ups it’s hard to see past Delhi Capitals this time.

Rishabh Pant continues to receive praise for his batting and his maturity in leading this Delhi Capitals side. With Shikhar Dhawan outstanding at the top of the order, the skipper has top scored in just two of Delhi’s seven matches to date but I expect him to complete the hat trick on Sunday.

The exchange has yet to fill up at the time of writing but Dhawan will start as favourite to top score for the Capitals at around the 3.02/1 mark. Prithvi Shaw will slot in at around 4.03/1 but I’m looking to get at least 4.57/2 on Rishabh Pant and I’m backing the Capitals’ Captain to deliver.

I’m keeping just two tips for Sunday’s game but anyone seeking a third pick might want to look at the Most Sixes market. With the power of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle in their side, I’m not shocked to see Punjab start as favourites at around the -125 mark.

However, if the match follows my plan and Kings’ key batsmen are dismissed early, Delhi Capitals will offer relative value here at a tempting 2.68/5.

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