RCB, DD to feature in battle of reserve strength

Both teams are missing a number of key players for their IPL encounter on Saturday.

Despite its injury woes, Delhi Daredevils will not be short on pace. Here, Zaheer Khan (right) and Kagiso Rabada practise at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.   -  NS

It was always going to be difficult, A.B. de Villiers admitted on Thursday, for a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) side missing a number of key players to hit the ground running.

"[Between] the team that played the final last year and the team that played last night, there were five changes," he noted. In the absence of Virat Kohli, K. L. Rahul and de Villiers himself, RCB embarked on its IPL season with a 35-run defeat in Hyderabad. In Twenty20 terms, that is a comprehensive beating.

As it prepares for its first home game of IPL 10, against Delhi Daredevils at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday, RCB cannot wait for Kohli to return. Kohli batted in the nets and faced throw-downs on match eve, but there was no official word on his fitness. This game could come too soon for him. De Villiers, nursing a back injury, did not train with the rest of the squad, and so it could be another game of coping with depleted resources for RCB.

Bowling woes

To be fair, though, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Travis Head and Kedar Jadhav all began well on the opening night, and a slightly smaller target may have easily been overhauled. The problem lay - as has long been the case - with the bowling.

Shane Watson, who is standing in for Kohli as captain, conceded that his side had been sloppy in the field. The medium pace of Watson, Aniket Choudhary, S. Arvind and Stuart Binny (who only bowled one over) was collectively flogged for 142 runs in 11 overs. Only fast bowler Tymal Mills and spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was excellent as usual, bowled with any measure of control.

Watson accepted some of the blame himself and it is understandable that he needs time to work out his best combination. RCB perhaps faltered, though, in fielding a solitary specialist spinner in Chahal. Samuel Badree, Tabraiz Shamsi, Iqbal Abdulla, Pawan Negi and Karnataka's Praveen Dubey were all on the bench, watching Henriques, Cutting and Yuvraj tee off. It is not unthinkable that one of those spinners will be involved in this fixture.

Delhi Daredevils has not exactly been fortunate with the availability of personnel either. Quinton de Kock and J. P. Duminy - two vital cogs in the wheel - will miss the tournament, while Shreyas Iyer needs a few more days after a bout of chicken pox. Angelo Mathews is yet to be cleared of his calf niggle by Sri Lanka Cricket. However, there is no shortage of pace (in Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins, and Kagiso Rabada) or all-round skill (in Corey Anderson, Jayant Yadav, Chris Morris, and Carlos Brathwaite) in the ranks.

"We really do have back-up for all positions," said the Delhi head coach Paddy Upton. RCB will be hoping such back-up proves inadequate.