Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals are two teams that have had a pretty good rivalry ever since the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It isn’t talked about as much as some of the other rivalries.
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These two teams had a contrasting time to the IPL. Be it at the start or even more recently, Kolkata and Delhi have always tended to go in two opposite directions are far as performances are concerned. Kolkata started off sluggishly and were poor in the first three years. But they have been good since 2011 and even went on to win two titles under Gautam Gambhir’s leadership.
Meanwhile, Delhi got off to a flying start and made it to the top four in the first two seasons and almost made it in the third season as well. However, post 2011, Delhi have been one of the worst sides statistically. They are recovering and have done well in the last couple of seasons.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals have played each other as many as 25 times in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Delhi have managed to gain 11 wins which include a Super Over win which came in 2019. On the other hand, Kolkata has the upper hand slightly with 13 wins. One game has ended in a no-result.
The rivalry started off with a Kolkata Knight Riders win in 2008 when a fired-up Shoaib Akhtar ran through the Delhi Daredevils line-up and blew them away with a stunning spell of 4 for 11. The second game in 2008 was the one that was washed out. However, Delhi pulled it back in 2009 and won both encounters. But since then, in most of the years so far, Delhi and Kolkata have never dominated a particular year. Only in 2017, KKR managed to win both games and in 2019, Delhi pulled it back and won both the games against KKR. Moreover, this year, Delhi triumphed in a high-scoring game.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals have had some thrilling games in their 25-match rivalry so far. The first-ever game became famous for a fiery Shoaib Akhtar spell who was making his IPL debut and helped KKR defend 133. That remains one of the most iconic spells bowled by a KKR bowler.
In 2012, Delhi and Kolkata were two of the best teams of the season. In fact, Delhi even finished at the top of the points table and were looking really good. Hence, KKR and Delhi squared off in the first qualifier of the 2012 season and it was KKR who emerged victoriously. The Gautam Gambhir-led KKR side made 162 before their bowlers came out firing to defend that score and propel KKR into the final of that season.
In 2017, in the 18th game of the season, Delhi put up 168 on the board batting first. They even had KKR down reeling at 21/3 and each of the KKR’s top three were back in the hut. However, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan stitched a resurrecting act and both of them scored half-centuries. But Delhi managed to pull it back very well again and the game went down to the wire. Nine runs were needed off the final over and Manish Pandey held his nerve to take KKR home.
There is absolutely no doubt that the 2019 Super Over contest between KKR and DC will be one of the best games played in the IPL. On the back of half-centuries from Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell, KKR racked up 185. Prithvi Shaw’s 99 put Delhi on course for a win but Kuldeep Yadav defended six in the final over and conceded just five to force a Super Over. Delhi scored 10 in the Super Over and Rabada bowled a fabulous over and his ball to Rabada, a yorker knocking his stumps over will remain one of the iconic moments in the IPL.
Kolkata Knight Riders didn’t have the best of starts in the IPL. They finished sixth twice (2008 and 2010) and last once (2009) in the first three seasons. It was the change in captaincy and change in the structure of the team that led to the transformation as Gautam Gambhir was appointed captain. In his very first season as captain (in 2011), he led KKR to the playoffs and in the next three years, KKR won two IPL titles (2012 and 2014). In fact, they are the only other team apart from Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to win multiple titles in the IPL.
Gambhir led KKR for seven seasons and in those, Kolkata reached the playoffs five times. He wasn’t retained in 2018 and since then, KKR have been very inconsistent. KKR have had some strong players and solid squads over the last few years. The likes of Sunil Narine and Andre Russell have been backed by the franchise even when they have gone through tough times. Moreover, what’s been impressive about KKR in recent times has been the backing of the youngsters even when they have been injured.
For this year, the two-time champions have assembled a power-packed squad. They have a solid top-order and their middle-order is one of the best in the tournament. Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell are some of the best T20 players going around. Their bowling is inexperienced but looks very talented. Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti are fit and firing while the likes of Prasidh Krishna and Sandeep Warrier can be effective. Pat Cummins is leading this attack. However, the form of Kuldeep Yadav has been a worry and Varun Chakravarthy has become their lead spinner.
Moreover, midway through this 2020 season, KKR have a new captain. Dinesh Karthik stepped down from captaincy voluntarily and Eoin Morgan has taken over. They have been inconsistent so far and they need to pull up their socks big time as it is the business end of the tournament.
Delhi Capitals (formerly, known as Delhi Daredevils) are the one of the only three active teams to have never won the IPL. They started out really well and made it to the semi-finals in the first two seasons. In 2010, they finished fifth and in 2012 again, they were on top and finished at No. 1 in the points table. However, they crashed out in the second qualifier as they lost to Chennai Super Kings. They have six bad seasons on the trot after that as their best finish between 2013 and 2018 was the sixth place. There was hardly any stability of players and there was a lot of chopping and changing.
However, things are changing and the trend has changed from the time Ricky Ponting took over as the head coach in 2018. Midway through that 2018 season, Gautam Gambhir stepped down and Shreyas Iyer took charge and he has formed a solid partnership with Ponting. Delhi have looked a better side under this Iyer-Ponting captain-coach duo. In 2019, they finished third on the points table with 18 points and crashed out again in the second qualifier. It was the first time that they qualified for the playoffs.
Delhi have continued that form into 2020 as well. They have been one of the best teams in the tournament so far. The batting is coming along nicely. However, it is the bowling that is winning them games and have made them look like world-beaters. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have formed a lethal pace duo while Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel complement each other well. They are poised for a top four spot and they are looking like a proper title-contender this time around.
In 2020, the Indian Premier League, originally held in March, was postponed to take place in September after the rescheduling of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. The event was moved to UAE with each team observing strict protocol to protect from the novel COVID-19.
Notably, the UAE conditions are different from the Indian ones, which put extra challenge on the eight franchises.
In the auction for the UAE season, Kolkata bought nine players – an expensive deal. They signed up Pat Cummins and prominent overseas cricket players like Eoin Morgan and Tom Banton. Varun Chakravarthy was also added to the side.
Delhi Capitals were also active in trading and brought eight players to their squad. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer and Marcus Stoinis were the big additions. Two key England players - Jason Roy and Chris Woakes, opted out.
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