Daredevils, Royal Challengers in winner-takes-all contest
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Entering the last match of the group stage, Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore hold their playoff fates in their hands. The key to qualification is simple. A win for either side will carry them through.
With Daredevils' net run rate (NRR) lower than the pack ahead of them, a loss would all but leave them out of the top four - in such a case, to qualify, they would need Knight Riders to have lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by a significant margin, and their own loss needs to be by a narrow enough margin to not fall below Mumbai Indians on NRR.
On the other end of the NRR spectrum are Royal Challengers, whose chances of qualifying are high even if they lose, provided neither Kolkata Knight Riders nor rain wins at Eden Gardens. Resounding wins against Gujarat Lions, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab have resulted in their NRR soaring to +0.930.
Not often does a batsman overshadow AB de Villiers, that too when he strikes at 172.54. But Virat Kohli has, and how. His record-breaking run has almost single-handedly helped Royal Challengers climb to the top half of the points table. Chris Gayle has struck form and Chris Jordan's integration has bolstered their slog-overs bowling stocks.
Karun Nair kept Daredevils' hopes alive with a composed, unbeaten 83 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday. Nonetheless, Daredevils face what is effectively another must-win situation two days later, and against one of the form sides of the tournament. Daredevils have banked on their youngsters, who have stood up in the pressure moments. After their tight win against Sunrisers, captain Zaheer Khan admitted at the post-match presentation that their reliance on the youngsters may not always pay off, but "the season is about having young energy around".
Delhi Daredevils WLLWL (last five matches, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore WWWLW
In the spotlight
Quinton de Kock struck a match-winning century in a chase of 192 in the previous encounter between the two sides. He hasn't been as consistent thereafter and has five single-digit scores in nine innings, including the previous two. Daredevils desperately need de Kock to fire.
Contrary to de Kock, Chris Gayle has found form in the latter stages of the tournament. The Royal Challengers management backed Gayle when he was misfiring, and have reaped rewards. His 32-ball 73 against Kings XI featured four fours and eight sixes. However, the Raipur ground's dimensions are large, and clearing the boundary won't be as easy.
Chris Morris missed Daredevils' previous game due to a niggle. Carlos Brathwaite, his replacement, performed with the ball. If Morris is fit, Nathan Coulter-Nile could make way. Pawan Negi also played, but wasn't needed with bat or ball. Daredevils have tinkered with their XI throughout, but may not opt for too many changes this time around.
Delhi Daredevils (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Rishabh Pant, 3 Karun Nair, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Carlos Brathwaite, 7 Pawan Negi, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile/Chris Morris, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Zaheer Khan (capt), 11 Jayant Yadav
Royal Challengers may consider bringing in left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla for Varun Aaron or S Aravind
Royal Challengers Bangalore (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Shane Watson, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Sachin Baby, 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 S Aravind/Varun Aaron, 10 Iqbal Abdulla, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
Daredevils chased 159 against Sunrisers off the last ball on Friday. Raipur's long square boundaries will facilitate twos and threes. There was light rain on match eve, but the forecast suggests a dry night on Sunday.
Stats and trivia
- Royal Challengers were unbeaten against Daredevils for eight games before their seven-wicket loss earlier this season
- Seven different players have got Man-of-the-Match awards for Daredevils this season. No other team has more than five players
Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo