IPL 2019: DC eyes playoffs, RCB keen to remain in hunt

One loss away from crashing out, Royal Challengers Bangalore faces the in-form Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday.

Rishabh Pant posses the ability to blow away RCB's playoff chances with a whirlwind knock.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

Royal Challengers Bangalore has managed to just about keep itself afloat in the race for the Playoff spot with a late revival, winning three of its last four contests. Now it has the daunting prospect of playing Delhi Capitals at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday; a loss here will end its campaign.

Like Royal Challengers, Capitals has enjoyed a successful run in the last fortnight, winning five of its last six games. Unlike Royal Challengers, it is one win away from sealing a berth in the Playoffs.

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Moreover, Capitals has had decisive contributions from a variety of players to enable it to occupy the third spot in the points table. Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, captain Shreyas Iyer, Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris have been match-winners at one time or another. There have been smaller useful performances from other players, too; fast bowler Ishant Sharma, for example, has delivered four quiet overs upfront on most occasions to register an impressive economy rate of 7.10 in nine matches.

The team faced hiccups at home, but with the management having gained clarity on the likely behaviour of the pitch here, it is unlikely to pose any discomfort to the team on Sunday. Its calm, determined performance in its contest against Kings XI Punjab seemed to demonstrate that the demons — if any — had been culled. In any case, it will be a source of reassurance for the side.

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For Royal Challengers, the source of reassurance will be AB de Villiers’ form. The batsman has had an excellent run in the IPL; in his team’s last four contests, he has scored three half-centuries, including a match-winning, unbeaten 82 earlier this week against Kings XI. With 414 runs in 10 matches, de Villiers currently sits fourth in the list of leading run-getters in the tourney so far.

AB de Villiers has struck form in recent matches for RCB. PHOTO: K. Murali Kumar   -  K. Murali Kumar

 

Virat Kohli, the captain, isn’t far behind; he has a tally of 400. 100 of those were scored in the contest against Kolkata Knight Riders last week.

Moeen Ali, who has also played a hand in the team’s revival via contributions with bat and ball, will not be present due to his England commitments. The off-spinner will be missed by the side, especially on a pitch that is useful for spinners.

The spin responsibilities will have to be shouldered by Yuzvendra Chahal, the leg-spinner, and perhaps Washington Sundar, whose first participated contest this season was against Kings XI this week.

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In what will be a first at this venue, the contest begins late afternoon. The heat will have to be factored in, although both teams have had practice sessions in the hot day-time conditions here.

SQUADS

DELHI CAPITALS: Shreyas Iyer (c), Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Bandaru Ayyappa, Sandeep Lamichhane, Colin Munro, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Sherfane Rutherford, Rahul Tewatia, Ankush Bains, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant (wk), Harshal Patel, Keemo Paul, Hanuma Vihari, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Colin Ingram, Shikhar Dhawan, Nathu Singh, Prithvi Shaw, Jagadeesha Suchith, Jalaj Saxena.

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE: Virat Kohli (c), Mohammed Siraj, Marcus Stoinis, Akshdeep Nath, AB de Villiers, Shimron Hetmyer, Parthiv Patel (wk), Milind Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Tim Southee, Colin de Grandhomme, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Devdutt Padikkal, Shivam Dube, Himmat Singh, Kulwant Khejroliya, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Washington Sundar, Prayas Ray Barman.