Delhi Daredevils v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore
Ferozshah Kotla, Delhi
Siesta time, want to rest?
After a topsy-turvy season that has resulted in the polar opposite of last year’s results, the Daredevils- sitting pretty at the top- are the first team to qualify for this year’s playoffs. In stark contrast, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have not only been depending on favorable results that keep Punjab out of the running, they have struggled with their own consistency- and their last over loss against Mumbai (a game that they should have won quite easily) might just sink them this year.
With Kohli failing time and again for the Challengers, their relatively weak bowling line-up has seen them lose most games that Gayle and AB fail to deliver in. To say that this Delhi game is a must-win for RCB is an understatement, with the NRR equally important at this stage- and nothing less than a mauling might do, considering the fact that their closest challengers Chennai might end up on equal points.
Of course, the result of this game will hinge crucially on the result of the previous game today- between Chennai and Punjab- but whatever the case, Bangalore must win both their remaining games by convincing margins to stay in the reckoning.
With a few glaring weaknesses being exposed over their last few games, the Daredevils are aware of the fact that their batting order becomes very brittle once their openers fail. Jayawardena’s dodgy form was never recognized till he was actually needed- and against Punjab, he proved that he is too classy a player to be kept down by poor form. He became their finisher, but not after Delhi endured a massive top-order collapse, not for the first time this year, and surely not the last.
They will want to repair these problems, with Sehwag scoring single-digit scores after an explosive 10 games- and the form of young Naman Ojha is what keeps them alive in the middle overs. With Morkel going through a dry period too, admiringly, young guns Aaron and Yadav have taken up the responsibility with great success- and they remain the best bowling attack this year.
Delhi might make a few changes this game, now that they have qualified- to give their bench strength a go, and in all probability, it might me Morkel who will be rested. Surely, though, they would not want the momentum to slip away from them in these last few games (and do a KKR), so winning will remain foremost on their mind. First things first, they must cut short the Gayle force.
Player to watch out for: David Warner
Arriving with a bang and a century in his second game after a long flight from Barbados, Warner has adjusted to conditions immediately- and looks more dangerous than his more-illustrious senior opening partner. His whirlwind starts make sure that DD don’t lose momentum despite losing wickets, and he will want to convert one of these 20s into yet another massive ton. With nothing to lose, and an ailing RCB attack, this might just be his night.
No, no, just one of you!
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
On the rare occasion that Gayle, AB and Kohli failed (against Mumbai Indians), it was Dilshan and young Mayank Agarwal that propelled them to a respectable total- but their inability to defend the total of 170 after having MI at 50-5 was a massive letdown. It will rankle captain Kohli that he has been the mutest of contributors to a team that is scrambling desperately for scrappy wins, but he normally tends to hit the jackpot when everything is on the line- and more importantly, when their fate is NOT in their hands. Their best move so far has been playing Muralitharan in place of ex-captain Vettori, as he has been the only saving grace in a Vinay Kumar-affected bowling attack. A win here against formidable Delhi will still not be enough, and they will have to annihilate the lowly Deccan Chargers in their last game too. And still, that may not be enough. But they like being the underdogs, as they were, last year.
Player to watch out for: Virat Kohli
Having failed too many times this season for his own liking, expect Kohli to dig in and take the attack to a world-class bowling line-up. He is too good to continue letting down his team, and will want to make amends with a big one, against the best team.
Bangalore want this more than ever, and after a heartbreaking loss against Mumbai, they will pull out all the stops against favorites Delhi here. Expect a Gayle or Kohli special, and the rest will be history.