Axe could fall on Shaw, Marsh as DC play do-or-die game vs KKR

New Delhi: Prithvi Shaw, Delhi Capitals’ blue-eyed boy till last season, could become the first casualty of the team’s floundering IPL campaign as they prepare to take on Kolkata Knight Riders here on Thursday.

The 23-year-old talented opener’s spot in the playing XI has come under the scanner after the Mumbai player could managed just 34 runs in five outings this season, with a highest of 15.

With DC having lost all five games so far this season, a rejig of the top order against KKR at the Ferozeshah Kotla in a bid to revive their fortunes could be on the cards.

Sarfaraz Khan, who has earlier been tried as a wicketkeeper-batter, could be drafted in as a specialist opener for powerplay overs, while the other option could be to promote veteran Manish Pandey.

For the David Warner-led side, this is a must-win situation as all routes to playoffs will mathematically be shut if they suffer another defeat.

KKR, on the other hand, would like to forget the loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad at home and get on with winning some games. Their skipper Nitish Rana, middle-order batter Rinku Singh and West Indian power-hitter Andre Russell do possess the capability to hammer Delhi Capitals’ bowlers, led by Anrich Nortje and Mustafizur Rahman.

The five consecutive defeats for Delhi are a reminder that they are really thin on resources in the batting department.

The biggest letdown undoubtedly has been Shaw’s lack of performance. The former Under-19 captain, who led India to victory during the 2018 U19 World Cup, looks a pale shadow of himself.

Statistics speak so loud and clear: Shaw scored 479 runs in 2021 and 283 in 10 games last year. But this year he has looked completely out of sorts against quick bowlers, making his position untenable.

He was run out for a duck in the last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, which Delhi lost by 23 runs in Bengaluru.

While there has been criticism around skipper Warner’s slow strike rate, the Australian opener’s struggles seem more because he has never got the freedom to accelerate, with wickets falling at the other end.

Warner has scored 228 runs in five games at a strike rate of around 116.

The other disappointment has been Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh at No.3. It remains to be see if Rilee Rossouw and Rovman Powell get back in the mix.

Yash Dhull has a serious technical flaw in his batting and has not been able to rectify the early trigger movement of shuffling towards the off-stump, making him an ideal candidate for LBW decisions to incoming deliveries.

DC’s bench strength too is pretty poor and that’s one of the reasons even out-of-form players are not being replaced.

For KKR, Englishman Jason Roy could replace Rahamanullah Gurbaz in the opener’s slot with N. Jagadeesan keeping wickets.

It will also be leg-spinner Suyash Sharma’s first senior-level game at his home ground.

However, all eyes will be on Nitish and Rinku, the two power-hitters who will be out to entertain the capacity crowd along with Russell and the in-form Venkatesh Iyer, who is fresh from his century against MI, albeit in losing cause.

Squads: Delhi Capitals: David Warner (c), Prithvi Shaw, Sarfaraz Khan, Aman Hakim Khan, Abhishek Porel (wk), Axar Patel, Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav, Rovman Powell, Rilee Rossouw, Anrich Nortje, Mustafizur Rahaman, Chetan Sakariya, Mukesh Kumar, Phil Salt, Lungi Ngidi, Praveen Dubey, Lalit Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vicky Ostwal, Ishant Sharma, Manish Pandey, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Yash Dhull.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Nitish Rana (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh, N. Jagadeesan, Vaibhav Arora, Suyash Sharma, David Wiese, Kulwant Khejroliya, Litton Das (wicketkeeper), Mandeep Singh and Jason Roy.