Bangalore v Delhi, in Bangalore
Thursday, March 25
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Delhi Daredevils, the most consistent team in the first two seasons of the IPL, are sinking fast. Their captain and main batsman, Gautam Gambhir, and their main fast bowler, Ashish Nehra, have been to the miracle doctor, Eliyantha White, in Sri Lanka, and are back in the country. White has previously helped - among others - Sanath Jayasuriya and Lasith Malinga recover from career-threatening injuries. That Gambhir and Nehra recover is crucial - not least because they offer international quality while being local players - if Delhi are to get their campaign back on track.
They are up against the most efficient team of the season so far, table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore. Last year's runners-up, Bangalore seem to have everything worked out. Jacques Kallis is the anchor around whom the likes of Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa and Eoin Morgan can attack. If things go wrong, they have two more solid batsmen, Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli, followed by lower-order fireworks from Mark Boucher. Their bowling department is perhaps the best among all teams. Dale Steyn and Kallis have been intimidating the Indian batsmen, Anil Kumble has been the stingiest bowler so far, and Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar have been smart enough to capitalise on the pressure and take 14 wickets between them. Bangalore know Delhi can beat any team on their day, and will be looking forward to the challenge.
Form guide (most recent first)Bangalore: WWWWL
It's not yet known if White's healing has been miraculous enough to have Nehra and Gambhir fit for Thursday's match. But if they are able, they should walk into the XI. AB de Villiers' form with the bat - 62 runs in five innings - will also be a cause of worry. He could make way for Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was left out for the last match.
Bangalore don't have any reasons to change their winning combination.
Delhi 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. Last season, after another loss by six wickets, Bangalore finally managed to beat what was becoming their bogey opposition, in a match crucial to their semi-final participation.
In the spotlight
Dirk Nannes started the 2010 IPL being the same unplayable bowler he was last year with the awkward bounce. But since the third game, in which Mumbai Indians gave him a bit of a stick, Nannes has sort of become one of the lot, going for 35 against Mumbai and 39 against Deccan Chargers. That's plenty by Nannes' standards, and he would want to return to normal service, which was conceding 12, 27 and 18 in his other three games.
Eoin Morgan hasn't got too many opportunities, but he hasn't quite taken the two chances he did get by the throat. He made 7 not out in a facile chase against Mumbai, 10 off 7 and 1 off 4 in his two other innings. His England team-mate, Pietersen, will be available soon, and Morgan will want to provide arguments against selecting Pietersen ahead of him.
- In four innings, Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey have already added 280 runs for the first wicket, including three successive 50-plus starts. That's more than the 189 runs all of Bangalore's opening stands managed in the first IPL, and the 240 in the second as well.
- Apart from Kallis, who has the orange cap for being the season's top-scorer, Bangalore have Praveen and Vinay in the top-five wicket-takers, Uthappa in top-five strike-rates (among batsmen who have scored at least 100), and Kumble has the best economy-rate for bowlers who have bowled at least 10 overs.
- Apart from Nannes, none of Delhi's bowlers has gone for less than 7.5 runs an over. Bangalore have four bowlers who have given less than that.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo