The much anticipated 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is off to a sensational start with the original eight teams returning into action. The season opener saw Chennai Super Kings take on the Mumbai Indians and to continue the cricket extravaganza a revamped Delhi Daredevils will lock horns with the King’s XI Punjab in what is expected to be a cracker of a match. Both Delhi and Punjab despite being part of the IPL right from the inaugural edition are yet to taste trophy success. While Kings XI have this time around played their bet on a much experienced and eager to prove Ravichandran Ashwin as their captain, the Delhi Daredevils are boosted to head into the season with homeboy Gautam Gambhir returning to lead the charge.

The PCA Stadium in Mohali which is also Kings XI Punjab’s first home this season will be hosting the much-anticipated contest. Unlike a Chepauk or a Wankhede, the crowd at Mohali stadium hasn’t been the most enthusiastic one for the reason that they are yet to connect with the home team which has over the years seen its bases shift from one ground to another. Kings XI have gone to Himachal where in Dharamshala they found their home ground in a couple of seasons and this year too they will be trying to attract the away crowds in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore. On the other hand, Delhi Daredevils despite being one of the most unsuccessful teams in the IPL have enjoyed a loyal fan base who fill the big Kotla every time to see their boys in action.

In the IPL player auction, earlier this year both Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils tried to tick all the possible gaps and built a team fair to say around their captains with a strategy to include the right mix of youth and experience. Delhi after retaining the trio of Chris Morris, Rishabh Pant, and Shreyas Iyer, their core from last year went all guns blazing to ensure they had a strong pace bowling attack like they have had over the years. Despite an injury knock leading to the sidelining of their star pacer Kagiso Rabada, Gambhir has his options sorted in Trent Boult and Mohammed Shami who would be backed by the likes of Chris Morris, Vijay Shankar, Daniel Christian and Harshal Patel. Veteran and an IPL specialist Amit Mishra will lead the spin pack for Delhi with the likes of Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav and Sandeep Lamichhane in a rotation. Glenn Maxwell can be Gambhir’s ideal impact man as he can be deadly with the bat and can give him an over or two any day.

Ravichandran Ashwin will be excited to don the role of a captain for the first time in the IPL. He hasn’t played T20 cricket for almost a year after missing the previous edition with the Rising Pune Supergiants but has been working on his variations and technique to flourish in the 11th edition of a competition he raised to prominence through. Punjab in the player auctions focused on making up for explosive Aussie batsman Glenn Maxwell by roping a number of batting heavyweights up front. The likes of Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, and Mayank Agarwal will be forming the core of Punjab’s top order. ‘Universe boss,’ Chris Gayle as he likes to call him can be Punjab’s lethal weapon in the season if he manages to click with his new less glamorous (unlike RCB) but a much more lively Punjabi surrounding.

Mayank Agarwal had a superb domestic season for Karnataka and won’t be a surprising move on Punjab’s part if they make him open with Gayle or Finch. Karun Nair another excellent Karnataka prospect will hold the key to Punjab’s success in batting against a sturdy Delhi Daredevils’ bowling line up. It will be interesting to see how Ashwin picks his allrounders and what role he gives them to create a bridge between the batting and the bowling. Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel are the two top all-rounders, Ashwin would look to build his eleven along.

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Here are the players to watch out for in the IPL 2018 match 2 between the Delhi Daredevils and the Kings XI Punjab:

Impact players:

Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle in the absence of Aaron Finch can be Punjab’s go to opener and if things go well for the powerful Jamaican, he can be their first choice opener for the rest of the season. In the batting, KL Rahul and Yuvraj Singh will certainly be Punjab’s biggest assets with the amount of experience they bring along with them to the squad. Ravichandran Ashwin will be leading the bowling pack and would look up to good performances from the likes of Andrew Tye and Mohit Sharma who have previously showcased their capabilities in the IPL.

Delhi Daredevils: A captain is as good as the team, something that Gautam Gambhir has maintained ever since taking charge as the captain of the Delhi outfit. But it would be him who his side would look up to for inspiration in their opening game of a fresh season. No Maxwell also means Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer will have to step up in their roles and deliver to ensure Delhi didn’t succumb against Ashwin’s brilliance.  On the bowling front, Trent Boult and Mohammed Shami will be the two key pacers who can heat up things in Mohali and make it difficult for Gayle, Yuvraj to exploit their batting prowess.

Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Daredevils: Head to Head in IPL

Matches – 20, KXIP Won – 11, DD Won – 9

Squads:

Kings XI Punjab: Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Christopher Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar

Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (C), Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer, Glenn Maxwell, Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Mohammed Shami, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Shabaz Nadeem, Dan Christian, Jayant Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichanne, Sayan Ghosh

Predicted XIs

Kings XI Punjab: R Ashwin (C), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Andrew Tye

Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (C), Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer, Colin Munro,  Prithvi Shaw, Vijay Shankar, Dan Christian, Mohammed Shami, Amit Mishra, Trent Boult

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