RCB take on table toppers Delhi in must win game
Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Thursday, May 17th 8 pm
Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
The Royal Challengers Bangalore face the Delhi Daredevils in a must win match at the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Thursday night.
The team lost a crucial tie against MI after dominating early in the game and now even wins in the two remaining matches could see them go out of reckoning for a spot in the play offs on Net Run Rate. Two wins will however give them the best shot of going through and the first of these will have to come against the table toppers Delhi Daredevils.
RCB beat Delhi in their first game of IPL 2012 but that was before DD were reinforced by the arrival of Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and David Warner. Their run since then has seen them reach the top of the table and stay there comfortably barring brief forays to 2nd place.
Their surprise package has been their bowling, the most devastating line up of the tournament in Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Irfan Pathan, packing 4 bowlers who can all bowl at speeds of 140 kmph consistently.
Even their spinners, the previously unknown Shahbaz Nadeem and Pawan Negi have been revelations. The only weak point of their campaign has been the form of Ross Taylor who they have preferred to play over Andre Russell as someone who can rebuild innings in case of a top order failure.
Warner and Sehwag have had a poor run in the last few games and will be keen to assert their dominance before the playoffs and will be dangerous. Once past them, the RCB bowlers will have Jayawardene, Venugopal Rao, Taylor, Naman Ojha and Pathan to contend with.
In former DD players Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Dirk Nannes and Daniel Vettori, RCB have 4 overseas players who know the pitch very well and could be tempted to include Nannes at the expense of Dilshan but the Sri Lankan has played crucial anchoring innings to let Gayle and de Villiers play more cavalier knocks at the other end.
After two great displays away from home, the RCB trio of Zaheer Khan, Vinay Kumar and Harshal Patel were brought back to earth at the M Chinnaswamy but the pitch at the Kotla is built to aid the Delhi pace battery and should assist the RCB pacers too, cancelling the need to play Nannes.
Jayawardene and Sehwag have great experience reading and playing Muttiah Muralitharan hence the onus on the pacers to remove them early increases. Vettori could bowl with him but whether RCB take a gamble by replacing Dilshan with Mayank Agarwal and go in with either Mohammad Kaif or Cheteshwar Pujara replacing KP Appanna will have to be seen.
Also in the spotlight would be Virat Kohli’s rotation of his bowlers after the miscalculation against MI, how strongly he backs them and his performance as the captain of a visiting side at what is his Ranji homeground.
His start-stop run of scores have put the pressure on Dilshan, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers and a good knock at Delhi would help him immensely. Saurabh Tiwary has shown some promise of his talent and another promotion in the batting order should help his confidence. Mayank Agarwal played a gem of an innings to make a claim for his opener’s slot but whether he gets it is doubtful.
Delhi were also superb in the field against KXIP, taking sharp catches, affecting run outs and stumpings with Sehwag leading the way. RCB were left ruing misfields against MI and players like Zaheer and Tiwary will have to pull their weight on the field so they do not undo the team's good work with the bat and ball.
RCB need two wins in two games, one against the table toppers and one against the wooden spoon team of the tournament, DC. Unfortunately the harder game comes first. The Challengers have to not just win but win comprehensively to get the two important points and a boost in the Net Run Rate. Here’s wishing they do.