It’s simple now. Winner goes through and gets two shots at a spot in the final. Loser goes to pray.
With a revamp of the backroom staff, Royal Challengers Bangalore have been paying more attention to data and match-ups. Their bowling has seemed more cohesive as well, instead of just being Yuzvendra Chahal and a bunch of others who undo his good work. This team does have what it takes to make it through, but for that they need to first win this game.
Delhi Capitals meanwhile are in a slump and it’s come at the worst possible time. Early on in the tournament, it seemed like their qualification would only be a matter of time. But now, playing their very last match of the season, their chances hang by a thread. Shreyas Iyer and his men can still go through and prove that these four back-to-back losses were nothing more than a blip. But for that, they need to first win this game.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Pravin Dubey
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Devdutt Padikkal, 2 Josh Philippe (wk), 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Chris Morris, 7 Gurkeerat Singh, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Navdeep Saini, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Marcus Stoinis walked in at 90 for 3 and pulverised the Royal Challengers bowling. Then Axar Patel broke their top order, allowing Kagiso Rabada to feast on the rest. The Capitals won that game by 59 runs.
The Capitals are a fast bowling team. But just for one day, they should go all in on spin. Virat Kohli has a strike-rate of 109 and a balls per boundary rate of 14.7 against the ball turning away from him this IPL. AB de Villiers has been similarly shackled: strike rate 110, bpb 10.3. If the pitch in Abu Dhabi continues to show signs of wear and tear, Axar Patel and even the new guy Pravin Dubey could become extremely key players.
Iyer has been dismissed by legspin four times this season. He’s also only managed 73 runs against them at a strike-rate of 107. This wouldn’t matter so much against a different team, except the Royal Challengers have the competition’s best spinner in their line-up and he bowls such clever legspin.
Stats that matter
The Royal Challengers score at a strike rate of 172 when de Villiers is at the crease. When he isn’t though, their strike-rate dips to the mid-120s. This has has been a problem for them especially when de Villiers is dismissed before the end overs.
166, 174, 163 and 112. This is the progression of Rishabh Pant’s strike rate for the past four IPLs. He has been trying to update his game; trying to bat more responsibly but that may be taking away his threat to the opposition.
Teams chasing won in five out of the last six games played in Abu Dhabi.
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