Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, UAE
Date: Wednesday, October 13
The Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals will meet on Wednesday in a final qualifier situation to see which of the two squads will face the Chennai Super Kings in the 2021 IPL Final. It has been a weird and wild ride in this Covid world that we live in, one that seemed destined to have no end thanks to the issues in India before the UAE stepped in to allow the season to be played out. This meant that the season was essentially split into two, with one of these teams benefitting the most from that split.
That team would be the Knight Riders who looked down and out after having just two wins and five defeats from their first seven contests of the season. Sitting seventh in the table – only ahead of Sunrisers Hyderbad and their two points – the Knight Riders then went on a streak that saw them flip the script. They won five of seven to finish in fourth place with 14 points – Sunrisers, by contrast, finished dead last with six points – and then they upset Royal Challengers Bangalore – the third-placed squad – by four wickets in the Eliminator on Monday.
The Capitals appeared to be doing Capitals things for most of the season. They finished in first place on the log with 20 points from their 14 matches, a record of 10 wins, and just four defeats. The issue is that down the stretch they have not looked like the consistent force we expect them to be. They lost two of their final four matches after losing just two of their first 10, then followed that up by being upset by the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1. This has put the Capitals in a position that means they could easily miss the IPL FInal entirely as they face the white-hot Knight Riders.
The only IPL side to qualify for the playoffs for the last three years, the Capitals need to find some form from somewhere here. There are serious issues with the balance of the side in the continued absence of Marcus Stoinis and R Ashwin is having a nightmare with the ball at the moment. Confidence is a funny thing in cricket and it seems to have deserted the Capitals at exactly the wrong point of the season.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, could hardly look any more confident. Their spin attack has been outstanding over the last part of the season, using the fact that the wickets can be played slow to really shut down opposition scoring. This is in stark contrast to the Knight Riders’ bats – especially the openers – and if Eoin Morgan can get going over the last two games then this fairytale run could end up with an IPL win.
The toss will be massive. Four of the five losses suffered by the Delhi team have come when batting first, while Kolkata has been a perfect 5-of-5 when chasing the game since the tournament shifted to the UAE. Both will want to bat second and whoever does has a massive advantage given the format. The lean here is with the Knight Riders as sometimes being hot at the right time is all that matters.