Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Royals need to brace for Capitals' spin choke

Can Royals upset the resurgent Capitals? (7:22)

Shaun Tait and Murali Kartik look ahead to the big match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium (7:22)

Big Picture

The belligerence of Riyan Parag, a 17-year old, who outscored Steven Smith during the course of their match-winning partnership on Saturday, embodies the Rajasthan Royals' mantra of playing freely without the fear of consequences for the remainder of IPL 2019.

In a way, knowing a slip-up and you may near the exit gates is as clear as a message can get, and no one better than Smith, the new captain, understands this. He is managing an elbow injury, has taken over the captaincy mantle at a difficult time, but is clear his sights are only on the next week and a bit. A knock such as his - an unbeaten half-century - has allayed questions over his personal form and doubts over whether he walks into the XI, for the moment. And Royals simply have to live in the moment now.

Having ticked a box against Mumbai Indians for a third win, Royals need to win at least four more games, or all five if mathematics plays a part. In their minds, they have to now approach this like a five-match series with the first one at home. It cannot be a bad place to start.

Delhi Capitals have every right to feel like a restless kid who feels stifled at home and wants to get out. They have not enjoyed home comforts like some of the other sides. The surfaces they have played on there have been ordinary, at best. If they expected a trip down the road to Jaipur will rejuvenate them, they will be mistaken.

The surfaces at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium too have been sluggish, much different to the zip and bounce fast bowlers have enjoyed here previously. Still, it hasn't been as bad as the ones at Feroz Shah Kotla. The confidence of having chased down a score quite comfortably on Saturday evening, and the comfort that they've been in the best possible position for the playoffs in a long time, should give them the extra kick.

In the news

Jos Buttler was to be available until their next game in Kolkata on April 25, but has flown home a week early to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. His void was filled by Sanju Samson, allowing Steven Smith to take his favourite No. 3 position. That's unlikely to change come Monday. The question they may have is, do they persist with Ashton Turner, who has made two first-ball ducks in two games playing as a specialist batsman, or bring in Liam Livingstone?

Shikhar Dhawan's rediscovery has eased the burden on Delhi's middle order. Will this give them the wings to chase down any total? Will they give Guyana's Andre Russell - Sherfane Rutherford - another go? Numbers indicate they should, as Royals' poor record against left-handers - they concede at 9.84 per over.

Previous meeting

This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season.

Likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Sanju Samson, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Ashton Turner/Liam Livingstone, 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni

Delhi Capitals: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 Colin Ingram, 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sandeep Lamichhane

Strategy Punt

  • Prithvi Shaw likes pace on the ball upfront. He's had a poor record against legspinners, falling to this variety five times, while scoring 48 runs off 41 balls. Can Royals look to play on his ego by bringing in Shreyas Gopal in the Powerplay?

  • Royals have lost 22 wickets to spin, the most among all teams this season. Their run rate of 7.3 is the third lowest against this variety. Capitals have no reason to deviate from their three-spin attack of Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane and Axar Patel. Not even if there's a hint of grass, which proved to be deceptive on Saturday.

  • Shikhar Dhawan's strike rate of 135.2 is comfortably his best in the IPL since 2016. Thrice this season, he's been out to the slower delivery against the pacers. With one side boundary comfortably bigger than the other, can Royals slow it down and get him to heave across the line, a shot he instinctively plays by coming down the pitch?

Stats that matter

  • Dhawan has the most 30-plus scores (6) in IPL 2019.

  • While batting first, Dhawan strikes at just 68.4 in his first 10 deliveries. This number jumps to 159.2 in chases.

  • No one outside Delhi's top three of Shaw, Dhawan and Iyer have faced more than 10 deliveries clocked at over 140kph. With Royals likely to use Jofra Archer largely at the death, it will be a good test for the likes of Rishabh Pant and Colin Inrgram.

  • Sawai Mansingh Stadium has seen the least number of boundaries this season. It stands at 54.4. For perspective, the boundary percentage at Eden Gardens is 64.5

  • Ishant Sharma is two scalps away from 100 T20 wickets

Capitals 2nd innings Partnerships

1st72S DhawanPP Shaw
2nd5SS IyerPP Shaw
3rd84RR PantPP Shaw
4th14SE RutherfordRR Pant
5th18CA IngramRR Pant