RCB, Daredevils seek last gasps
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
There won't be much to choose between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils when the two meet in Bangalore on Tuesday. But unlike a top-of-the-table clash between two formidable teams putting up their best defences against each other, this is really a contest between two sinking ships to see which one holds out for longer. Both have lost six out of their last seven matches, both have had their marquee players reduced to mere spectators, both have appeared lost in their strategies, both have taken hits at home despite playing more home games than others and barring a mathematical miracle, both are out of the league, three weeks before the final. Still, the match gives one team a chance to survive a little longer.
Royal Challengers are playing their third straight game before the doting Bangalore fans but it can only be counted an advantage if you win. The dream batting order, which includes four top internationals, has only flickered sporadically and the news of Chris Gayle's shoulder injury which may keep him out only aggravates their problems. Their bowling didn't look part of the problem earlier in the tournament but the manner in which they have buckled in the last three games points to further cracks.
Their opponents aren't in a happy place either. Kevin Pietersen pushed himself to the top of the order, just like Virat Kohli did the other day, and managed some feel-good runs but it is his team's stubbornness in holding back two of their best players - JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav - that has been hurting them. Their bowling attack looks disconnected, rather than a unit. They played four straight games in Delhi and lost all four as their bowlers failed to defend the totals every single time.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LLLWL (most recent first)
Delhi Daredevils: LLLLW
Where they stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Seventh, with three wins in nine games
Delhi Daredevils: Eighth (last), with two wins in eight games
They opened the tournament against each other in Sharjah, a match in which Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 49 and Yuvraj Singh scored a half-century to set up a comfortable eight-wicket win for Royal Challengers.
Watch out for
Royal Challengers have been inflexible with their team selections, opting for a seamer-centric bowling attack on a Bangalore pitch that has offered something to the spinners. Other teams have played an extra spinner (and won matches), but Royal Challengers have not budged. After the mauling at the hands of Steven Smith and James Faulkner, maybe there is a case for Shadab Jakati over Ashok Dinda.
Daredevils made three changes to their side in their previous match and had Pietersen opening the batting, marking a big change in approach. That didn't translate into Duminy coming up the order though. Duminy arrived at the crease in the 17th over. Daredevils are at that stage where a little bit of experimentation won't hurt, but will they?
Stats and trivia
- JP Duminy is the only Daredevils batsman to feature in the top-10 run-getters this season. None of their bowlers appear in the top ten
- 10.76 - Ashok Dinda's economy when he comes to bowl in the last four overs of an innings. It's the second-worst economy for a bowler (minimum 30 innings) in the last four overs, behind Munaf Patel's 10.97 and marginally better than Ishant Sharma's 10.64. He has also been hit for 30 sixes in these overs, third on the list of bowlers to concede most sixes in this period, behind Vinay Kumar and L Balaji.
"If you keep losing, you've got to change a few things here and there."
Daniel Vettori, the Royal Challengers Bangalore head coach
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo