Published On: Fri, Apr 20th, 2018

Bottom-placed teams look for season-altering spark

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Four games into the season, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils occupy the bottom two spots on the IPL table. It’s not an unfamiliar position for either team. Both are coming off heavy defeats, and both have pressing issues to sort out if they are to make anything of this season.

Bowling has been Daredevils’ failing so far: they have been the most expensive Powerplay attack this season, going at 10.75 an over in this phase, and the second-worst team in the middle overs (8.17). RCB have been just as bad: they have the worst economy rate of all IPL teams in the middle overs (8.47) and the death (12.5) this season.

On the batting front, Daredevils have done okay, barring a disappointing chase against Kolkata Knight Riders, and by and large have their best line-up sorted out. Not so in RCB’s case: how else would you explain Virat Kohli playing for net run rate as soon as his team was two down in a big chase against Mumbai Indians?

RCB will need to find a way to distribute Quinton de Kock, Kohli and AB de Villiers effectively through their batting order, determine how to make the best of a not-too-convincing second line of Indian batsmen, and figure out who among Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee and Moeen Ali will most effectively plug whichever hole remains after attending to the first two tasks.

Saturday’s match is the first of four home games in a row for RCB, which gives them an opportunity to play back-to-back games in similar conditions and get some consistency going. The weather, however, might not be their friend: it rained on the eve of the match, and more showers are expected on gameday.

In the news

  • Rain forced both teams to cancel their training sessions on the eve of the match.

  • An illness had kept Tim Southee from joining the RCB squad in India, but he has now arrived in Bengaluru.

The likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Mandeep Singh, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Corey Anderson/Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammed Siraj/Kulwant Khejroliya, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Jason Roy, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Shahbaz Nadeem, 11 Trent Boult

Strategy punt

Jason Roy’s vulnerability to legspin is well known (12 dismissals in 22 T20 innings since 2015, while scoring 123 off 112 balls) and it is quite likely RCB will look to exploit it by opening their bowling with Yuzvendra Chahal. With this in mind, Daredevils could perhaps promote Rishabh Pant to partner Roy at the top of the order. In T20s since 2015, Pant has scored 128 off 87 balls against legspin, while only being dismissed three times. This could force a scenario where RCB either hold back Chahal or risk him coming up against Pant.

Gautam Gambhir, while generally reckoned to be a good player of spin, hasn’t been nearly as effective as Pant against legspin in T20s since 2015: 180 off 157 balls, nine dismissals.

Stats that matter

  • Since the 2011 season, RCB have a 10-1 win-loss record against Daredevils

  • AB de Villiers loves to bat against Chris Morris. In five T20 meetings, he has scored 50 off 21 balls against his compatriot without being dismissed.

  • Glenn Maxwell, on the other hand, has poor T20 records against two key RCB bowlers: 26 off 25 balls with three dismissals against Yuzvendra Chahal, and 17 off 19 balls with three dismissals against Umesh Yadav.

  • Rishabh Pant (3.25 balls per boundary) and Maxwell (3.33) have been two of the four most frequent boundary-hitters in IPL 2018, among batsmen who have faced a minimum of 30 balls. The other two in the top four are Andre Russell (2.90) and Dwayne Bravo (3.27).

  • Umesh has been phenomenal against left-hand batsmen this season, conceding only 30 runs to them in 31 balls while taking three wickets.

Fantasy picks

In his last three innings, Quinton de Kock has scored 45, 26 and 19, showing glimpses of his best form without really being able to translate that into a big score. Perhaps Saturday is the day that happens, when he faces off against his former team.

Quotes

“In IPL, it never happens that you get a four-day break in between [matches]. We utilised that to gel together and have brain-storming meetings. Confidence is there because of how we beat Mumbai.”
Delhi Daredevils assistant coach Pravin Amre



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