Litmus test for Bangalore
Match factsMay 19, 2009
Start time 16.30 (14.30 GMT, 20.00 IST)
With the IPL moving towards the last leg of league games, things are desperate for Royal Challengers Bangalore. They have to win their last two games. A loss to Delhi Daredevils will seriously dent their chances of going further, but a win will suddenly put the pressure on Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, on 14, 14 and 13 points respectively. Should Bangalore beat Delhi, their last match against Deccan turns into a knock-out affair. Bangalore kept their semi-final hopes alive by pulling off an upset victory against Chennai Super Kings. Up against the top side in the tournament they will have to be at their best - there simply is no room for slipping.
Delhi are clearly the better side, with a far stronger opening combination and middle order, Twenty20's best slow bowler, a legspinner in form and a potent new-ball pair. Bangalore have constantly shuffled their dismal opening combinations and don't have a great pace attack, so plenty falls on Anil Kumble's shoulders. How Kumble, Ross Taylor, Robin Uthappa, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Praveen Kumar match up against Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dirk Nannes, Ashish Nehra, Amit Mishra and possibly Daniel Vettori could well decide how this one swings.
Bangalore's support cast has been tidy if unspectacular. R Vinay Kumar and Roelof van der Merwe have six and five wickets respectively, and Virat Kohli is their third-highest run-getter. How these players perform under pressure is also critical. While Delhi's big-name openers have struggled, de Villiers and Dilshan have been awesome in this IPL. Praveen and Vinay can hope to dislodge Sehwag and Gambhir again, but getting de Villiers and Dilshan is the key. After leading Delhi on a smooth ride to the semi-finals, Sehwag has set his sights on regaining his form with the bat. Potentially bad news for Bangalore.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: WWLLW
Bangalore's main concern is - no surprises - the opening combination. Uthappa was promoted and failed last game, Kallis got a first-ball duck, and they could be wary of having to depend on Jesse Ryder, who hasn't found the middle of the bat in weeks. Dravid's return from paternity leave has seen a drastic dip in form and Kohli has been sporadic. Taylor has two Man-of-the-Match awards in two games; he needs support, and fast.
Delhi Daredevils: WLWWW
Once again, after Sehwag and Gambhir failed, up stepped de Villiers and Dilshan in Delhi's win over Rajasthan. Mishra took three in an over at the death, Farveez Maharoof took two, and most impressive was the return of Avishkar Salvi, who replaced Pradeep Sangwan and took 2 for 19 in four overs. Nehra was again mind-bogglingly economical. Most of these players have carried the team over the last couple weeks.
Watch out forJacques Kallis: This is a class act we're talking about. With Bangalore needing to win at all costs, what better stage than this for one of the game's best allrounders to step up. He's vastly experienced, aware of the conditions, and probably very hungry after a first-ball duck in the last game.
Ashish Nehra: If there's one bowler who can stop Kallis in his tracks, it's Nehra. The third-highest wicket-taker this season, Nehra has struck early and at the death, where he has been especially noteworthy with his yorkers and changes of pace. Nehra's economy rate in the last two matches is a stunning two; he has conceded just 14 runs in seven overs.
You never know what opening pair Bangalore will walk out with. The bowling was influential in beating Chennai and Bangalore should stick with that combination.
Bangalore: 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Jacques Kallis, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Roelof van der Merwe, 8 B Akhil/KP Appanna, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 R Vinay Kumar, 11 Anil Kumble (capt).
Each of Delhi's bowlers struck in their last win. Delhi dropped Vettori for that match and brought back Nannes, who wasn't as successful as in earlier games but probably will still keep Vettori out before the semis. Delhi's batting should remain untouched.
Delhi: 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Mithun Manhas, 7 Farveez Maharoof, 8 Dirk Nannes, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Aavishkar Salvi, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Stats and trivia
Head-to-head recordDelhi won both their contests against Bangalore in the 2008 season. The first match was a close contest with Bangalore falling short of Delhi's 191 by 10 runs. Delhi's margin of victory at the Chinnaswamy Stadium was five wickets with ten balls to spare. This season Delhi beat Bangalore by six wickets.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo