IPL 2023, DC vs PBKS preview: Capitals face Punjab as they battle for pride

New Delhi: All but out of play-off reckoning, Delhi Capitals will expect a more purposeful approach from its Indian batting unit as it plays for pride against Punjab Kings in a 12th round IPL match, here on Saturday.

With four wins in 11 games, DC are staring at an unceremonious exit as winning the next three matches will only take them to 14 points, which might not be enough to earn them a place in the top four, leaving their fate in the hands of other teams.

The specialist Indian batters have hardly contributed and it has all been about either skipper David Warner, keeper-batter Phil Salt or all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who have given the team some momentum with willow.

The likes of Manish Pandey, Ripal Patel and Aman Hakim Khan have lacked the killer punch as they have not been able to change their game according to the match situation. The inability of the middle-order to rotate the strike or find big hits has put paid to their hopes.

As a result, once the top-order caves in, they lack the wherewithal to finish a chase, something which was on display against Chennai Super Kings, the other day.

Skipper Warner, who looked good during the first half of the season, has struggled in the last five innings with single digit scores in three of them. Salt sizzled with two whirlwind innings but he also was dismissed cheaply in three matches, including two ducks. Marsh exploded once against Sunrisers Hyderabad with the bat but couldn’t do much in the rest.

However, the Australian has chipped in with regular wickets in the last three games. The bowlers have fared better with spin duo of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav bowling a good line, while pacers Ishant Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed getting wickets most times. The absence of speedster Anrich Nortje, who had to return home due to personal reasons, however, was felt in the last match.

Punjab Kings, with 10 points from 11 games, too are looking at a must-win game, following back-to-back defeats against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively. PBKS have blown hot and cold this season. In the last two matches, their bowlers have failed to defend totals as MI and KKR out-batted them. Punjab had a chance to get into top 3 in their last game but it was Rinku Singh, who slammed a four in the last delivery to dent Punjab’s hopes as they entered the must-win zone with three games to go.

Shikhar Dhawan remains their best batter and has done the job at the top but the same can’t be said about his opening partner Prabhsimran Singh. Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s return from injury was marked by a three-ball duck and his form will be important. The ever-improving Jitesh Sharma and all-rounder Liam Livingstone produced some sensational hitting to get them to good scores.

In the bowling attack, Arshdeep Singh has been their key bowler but he along with Nathan Ellis and Sam Curran have leaked runs off late. The absence of a quality off-spinner has hurt their cause.

Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar has lacked consistency, while Liam Livingstone too just has two wickets to show in five games. Left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar too has taken just 5 wickets in 10 games but he had done well, taking a wicket for four runs against KKR but he was given just one over.