DD hurdle for under-fire RCB

Delhi Daredevils hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday as the face-off between two teams at the bottom of the table remains of consequence to only one, and that too by the slimmest of margins.

Geared for combat: Umesh Yadav (left) and Tim Southee train at the Feroz Shah Kotla ahead of their IPL contest against Delhi Daredevils. Royal Challengers Bangalore needs to win all its remaining matches to be in with a chance of making the playoffs.   -  Sandeep Saxena

It would have been a great battle if the situation the two teams find themselves in was not farcical. Delhi Daredevils hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday as the face-off between two teams at the bottom of the table remains of consequence to only one, and that too by the slimmest of margins.

On paper, there is no comparison between the two sides. RCB has one of the strongest batting units in the tournament with sufficient bowling power as well while DD has more utility players than big-name match-winners. In reality, there has been little to choose from between the two on field.

Read: Out-of-contention Delhi Daredevils may make big changes for last three games

DD is already out of the race after its eighth loss in 11 games on Thursday, and with just a day's break, the team only had an optional practice on Friday. That session, however, saw former captain Gautam Gambhir turn up to sweat it out, indicating he might return to the playing XI for the first time since giving up the leadership of the side.

Changes expected

It won't make much of a difference, however, given the fact that the three main scorers for DD — Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant — are all likely to figure as well and it has been the team's bowling and fielding that has let DD down repeatedly. Bowling coach James Hopes has indicated the ones without any match-time might get a look-in.

 

If that happens, the likes of Trent Boult and Glenn Maxwell might make way for Junior Dala and Sandeep Lamichhane. While Boult has delivered with the ball, Maxwell has been a major flop and questions are bound to be raised on coach Ricky Ponting persisting with him.

Crucial game for RCB

For RCB, there is more than pride at stake. A win in all its remaining four games might still let the team sneak into the top-four, provided other results go their way as well, making Saturday's game crucial for the Virat Kohli-led side. The skipper himself, however, was said to be unwell and opted out of training on the eve of the game, though he is unlikely to sit out such an important encounter in his home city.

Read: Ton-up Pant stands out among Indians

Kohli is the only player from among the famed RCB batting line-up with a decent outing in the IPL so far. Mandeep Singh, Quinton de Kock, Manan Vohra, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum have all disappointed. The team lost by five runs against SRH chasing a modest 147 in its last outing, a defeat Kohli admitted was unacceptable given the muscle in the side. However, barring AB de Villiers to some extent, none of its overseas players have made an impression. From among the bowlers, pacer Umesh Yadav has been the standout.

With even a whirlwind 128 by Rishabh Pant not enough to help DD defeat SRH on Thursday, it remains to be seen how the host bounces back from the massive nine-wicket thumping in less than 48 hours. The only consolation would be the fact that its opposition is in an equally precarious situation.

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