Injury-hit Capitals look to throw a wrench into Titans’ campaign

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Match details

Gujarat Titans (GT – 6th; P6 W3 L3) vs Delhi Capitals (DC – 9th; P6 W2 L4)

Ahmedabad, 7.30pm IST (2pm GMT)

Big picture – Gill’s Titans vs Pant’s Capitals

Just two points separate Gujarat Titans and Delhi Capitals, and yet they are three places apart in the points table. Titans are sixth, and like last year, have won and lost three each out of their first six games. Shubman Gill, their highest run-getter so far, has led them from the front. Another positive for Titans is Rashid Khan returning to form. Rashid had started this IPL with four wickets at 36.25 and an economy of 9.06. But in the last two matches, he has hit back with two wickets at 23, while going at only 5.75 runs an over.

What will also please Titans is that Rashid has kept Capitals’ captain Rishabh Pant quiet as well. Rashid has allowed Pant only 94 runs off 87 balls across all T20s. But like Gill, Pant has also shown the way for his side even as Capitals are ninth. So far, Pant has 194 runs at a strike rate of 157, having already shown shades of his best with two half-centuries, and some typically funky swipes and swats.

Capitals brought their campaign back on track by beating Lucknow Super Giants last week. Jake Fraser-McGurk starred with a fifty in that game, while Kuldeep Yadav, returning from an injury, pushed LSG back with 3 for 20. But Capitals now have injury concerns around David Warner, who was hit on his finger while batting against LSG. Capitals coach Ricky Ponting said on Tuesday that Warner hasn’t been able to “hold the bat properly yet”. That all but rules Warner out against Titans, who will be wary that things could get interesting heading into the second half of the season if Capitals beat them on Wednesday.

Form guide

(Last five matches; most recent first)

Gujarat Titans WLLWL
Delhi Capitals WLLWL

Team news and Impact Player strategy

Gujarat Titans

Sai Sudharsan confirmed on the eve of the game that David Miller, who missed three matches due to a niggle, is “ready to play”. With Miller available against Capitals, Titans might drop Matthew Wade. The wicketkeeping gloves would, then, go back to Wriddhiman Saha, who sat out of Titans’ previous two fixtures due to a back spasm. Saha batted for a lengthy period at practice, while also keeping wicket, thus indicating that he is all but set to start against Capitals.

Against Rajasthan Royals, Titans finally picked M Shahrukh Khan after he spent the season on the bench despite being signed for INR 7.4 crore. Coming on as Impact Sub for Mohit Sharma, he smashed 14 from eight balls in what turned out to be a last-ball win for Titans. They could continue to use the same pair, with who replaces whom depending on whether Titans bat or bowl first.

Probable XII: 1 Shubman Gill (capt), 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Sai Sudharsan, 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Noor Ahmad, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Spencer Johnson, 11 Mohit Sharma, 12 Shahrukh Khan

Delhi Capitals

Warner’s absence compounds Capitals’ injury issues, after Mitchell Marsh went back to Australia on suffering a partial hamstring tear. With Warner missing, Capitals might start with Abishek Porel if they bat first and with Jhye Richardson if they chase.

Probable XII: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Abishek Porel, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Tristan Stubbs, 6 Axar Patel, 7 Jake Fraser-McGurk, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mukesh Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Khaleel Ahmed, 12 Jhye Richardson

In the spotlight

The top three wicket-takers last IPL were all from Titans. One of them, Mohit Sharma, has had a good time this season too. In the absence of Mohammed Shami and some support from Hardik Pandya, Mohit is Titans’ leading wicket-taker this year. His eight wickets have come at 27, although he has been taken for 9.39 runs an over. But when Mohit is bowling in Ahmedabad, the average slides down to 13.03, and the economy to 7.82. So expect Mohit to have an impact with his variations again.

Jake Fraser-McGurk turned 22 a day before taking Capitals to a win on his IPL debut, when he clubbed 55 from 35 balls. But he’s enjoying some stardom already. Last October, Fraser-McGurk thrashed a List A century off just 29 balls, beating AB de Villiers’ record of 31 deliveries. This February, in just his second ODI for Australia, he thumped 41 from only 18 balls against West Indies. With Marsh and Warner missing, Fraser-McGurk can provide just the spark Capitals need to move up the table.

Stats that matter

  • Since 2022, only three batters have scored at least 1000 runs in the IPL while averaging 40-plus and striking at above 140. Gill, one of those batters, has been the best across all three metrics.
  • Tristan Stubbs, another of Capitals’ in-form batters, has the upper hand over Rashid. Stubbs has faced nine balls from the Titans legspinner in T20s, but has smashed 22 runs off them – including three sixes.
  • Most of Capitals’ bowlers will want to be careful against Miller. He has a strike rate of 288 against Ishant Sharma, whom he has smacked for two fours and three sixes in nine deliveries in T20s. Mukesh Kumar, on the other hand, has been pumped for 24 off eight balls. Miller also strikes at 171 and 168 against Khaleel Ahmed and Axar Patel, respectively.
  • Pitch and conditions

    Ahmedabad saw scores of 168 and 162 batting first in two matches, but that went up to 199 when Titans were playing Punjab Kings. The last two games were won by the chasing team, even as the first one was lost only by six runs. So expect the side winning the toss to bowl first.

    Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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