Delhi eye play-off berth; Punjab and Hyderabad look to keep hopes alive - GulfToday

Delhi eye play-off berth; Punjab and Hyderabad look to keep hopes alive


Punjab Kings player seen during a parctice session.

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Delhi Capitals will look to extend the winning momentum and inch closer to a play-ff berth with a victory against a resilient Rajasthan Royals.

Should Delhi beat Rajasthan, they will be all but assured of a play-off berth with 16 points in their kitty with four games in hands.

Delhi have won seven of their nine matches to keep their stranglehold in the top two.

Delhi and Chennai have dominated the 14th edition of the IPL to keep their grip on the top two spots in the standings.

In their last match, Rajasthan had defeated Delhi by three wickets. So they would look to gain a psychological advantage.

But when Rajasthan beat Delhi by three wickets, David Miller had scored a fifty and took them over the line after some early wobbles.

In the UAE leg of the IPL, David Miller is not available. Many players have pulled out of the tournament in the UAE leg and Rajasthan are the worst hit by the withdrawals.

Rajasthan have been weakened by the absence of the star cricketers Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler along with Miller. Stokes and Acrher have pulled out on the health ground where as Buttler cited a personal reason for withdrawing.

But in the absence of the stars, Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Liam Livingstone put up a stellar show to steer them to 185 before Rahul Tyagi bowled the historic over to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat against Punjab.

Tyagi gave just one run and took two wickets to deny Punjab a certain victory in the last over of their last game. Punjab could not score three runs off the last over despite having eight wickets in hands.

Delhi are brimming with confidence after a stellar eight-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are at the bottom of the standings with just two points.

Delhi pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are in a stellar form as they accounted for five wickets together against Hyderabad.

Rabada and Nortje ripped through the batting line-up of Hyderabad. Both the bowlers were seen hitting the deck at 140km/hr regularly. Axar Patel and Ravichandra Ashwin will add teeth to their bowling attack.

In the batting, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Rishab Pant will lead the charge. Prithvi Shaw is also in good knack of form.

In the other match of the day, Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Punjab Kings. Both the teams will look to bounce back after defeats in their last matches against Delhi and Rajasthan respectively.

Both the teams are lying at the bottom of the table and need to win all their games to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Hyderabad have won just one match and while Punjab have six points with three wins from their eight outings so far. The race for the play-offs has been heated up as just two points separate four teams in the lower half of the table.

Punjab can climb up the standings if they go on to win the match as Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals all have eight points each.

With none of these teams in action till Saturday, Punjab have a realistic chance of pressing for play-off spot. If Punjab win they can put the pressure on Kolkata, Mumbai and Rajasthan. Punjab are in good touch and have a good depth in batting line-up.

Both captain Lokesh Rahul and Mayank Agarwal put up a 100-run partnership for the first wicket against Rajasthan. But Punjab could not absorb the pressure in the end and lost the match eventually.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan have been further depleted as Natrajan has tested positive and Sherfane Rutherford returned to the West Indies to attend the funeral of his father.

Umran Malik has flown in from India as the replacement for Natrajan. He has played one T20 international and domestic matches in India.

He is joining the team as a short-term replacement. Once the Natrajan gets fit, he will be back in the squad.

As per the guidelines, short term replacements are allowed to be with the teams, until the player they are replacing gets fit. Rajasthan batting will revolve around David Warner, Kane Williamson and Jason Holder.

Manish Pandey and Kedar Jhadav will have to step up their game to provide more stability to the middle order.

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