Time: September 20, 7:30 PM IST
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Since 2018, the average first and second innings scores at the venue read 152 and 149 respectively. Both pacers and spinners have thriven equally, but the latter have been better at keeping a lid on the runs. The team batting second has won 51% of the matches.
Only 4 days ago Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey stitched up an outstanding partnership of 212 runs, lifting Australia from 73 for 5 to a successful chase of 303 runs. Whether Carey will find a spot in the playing XI, is a question only Delhi’s management can explain. On the other hand, Punjab would not dare to think of benching Maxwell. In 271 T20s he has smashed 6,016 runs at an outrageous strike rate of 154, including the highest score of 145*.
KL Rahul was the second-highest run-scorer in the 2019 edition: he managed 593 runs including a hundred and 6 fifties. In India’s tour to New Zealand earlier this year, he scored 428 runs in 5 T20Is and 3 ODIs. He has been in the peak of his form in the last 18 months.
With 521 runs at a strike rate of 135.6, Shikhar Dhawan was Delhi’s highest run-scorer last year. Before the lockdown, he had scored a hundred and 3 fifties in international cricket. Going by the videos Delhi have published on social media, Dhawan looks as lethal as ever.
Kagiso Rabada played 5 matches fewer than the highest wicket-taker and yet he had only a wicket fewer. He took 25 wickets in 12 matches at a terrific strike rate of 11.2.
Rishabh Pant’s IPL numbers are magnificent: in 54 matches he has hit 1,736 runs at a strike rate of 163. He finished as the highest run-scorer in 2018 and second-highest in 2017 and 2019 for Delhi.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman was at his absolute best in the Caribbean T20 League, taking 16 wickets in 11 games. Given the nature of the Dubai wicket, he is likely to continue bagging more wickets in his tally.
Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran too tasted success in the Caribbean Cricket League. This time, however, they will be playing against each other.
Although Chris Gayle opted out of his home league and has not played any competitive cricket since January, we cannot ignore the fact that he is the highest run-scorer in T20s. In 404 games, he has accumulated 13,296 runs. To make matters more interesting, he has scored the most runs in the Indian T20 League.
The responsibility of holding the innings together as well as finishing it will be on the Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer’s shoulders. He was having a great time before the lockdown: in 6 ODIs and 5 T20Is combined, he scored 425 runs including a hundred and 3 fifties.
Marcus Stoinis isn’t as effective in the middle order as he is at the top. He likes some pace in the wicket and is vulnerable against spin. With the top order already packed, it will be interesting to see at what position do Delhi accommodate Stoinis. In 117 T20s he has collected 2,514 runs comprising 13 fifties and a century.
Delhi: Ajinkya Rahane/Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Shreyas Iyer (c), 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), Marcus Stoinis/Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishant Sharma
Punjab: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, K Gowtham, Chris Jordan, 9 Ravi Bishnoi/J Suchith, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman