Match factsThursday, May 17, Delhi
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
How rapidly prospects change in the IPL. Two days ago, Royal Challengers Bangalore were on a three-match winning streak, with healthy chances of making the playoffs. Then they lost to Mumbai Indians, one of their competitors for a top-four finish, and later that day another competitor, Chennai Super Kings, beat Kolkata Knight Riders, whose position is far healthier than that of Royal Challengers. Now Royal Challengers need to win their last two games, both away from home, to have a realistic chance of qualifying, but even that may not be enough if it comes down to net run-rates.
It gets harder. The first of Royal Challengers' two must-win games is against Delhi Daredevils, league leaders and the first team to secure a playoff berth. It's at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where the pitch and conditions seem customised for the home side's hard-hitting batsmen and battery of fast bowlers. Daredevils also have two games remaining and one victory will guarantee a top spot, which will give them a second chance of making the grand final should they slip up in the first.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Delhi Daredevils: WLWLW
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LWWWL
Watch out for
Daredevils' team composition: There are several voices asking for Andre Russell to be included at Ross Taylor's expense. But Daredevils don't need a seam bowling allrounder because they already have Irfan Pathan and the strongest pace attack in the IPL. What they need is an in-form overseas batsman to act as ballast in a top-heavy batting line-up, which is why they are persisting with Taylor, desperate for him to shun the form that has brought only 107 runs at a strike rate of 87 in nine innings. Taylor made a duck in his previous innings, against Kings XI Punjab, and Daredevils have to decide between persisting with him and giving Aaron Finch, the only overseas batsman on the bench, a run before the playoffs.
Royal Challengers' misfiring bowlers: They have the longest tail in the IPL because they play five specialist bowlers - Vinay Kumar batted at No. 7 in the previous game. Yet their bowling attack, despite having Zaheer Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan, is the second most expensive of the tournament, after Deccan Chargers who are at the bottom of the league. That is largely because Royal Challengers' home venue, the Chinnaswamy Stadium, has the best batting surfaces and some of the smaller boundaries in the tournament. However, even away from home, Royal Challengers have conceded 8.19 runs per over. Again, only Chargers fare worse. Perhaps the more helpful pitches at the Kotla will strengthen Royal Challengers' weakest link.
Stats and trivia
- In 13 matches, Royal Challengers have taken only 12 wickets in the first six overs, when the fielding restrictions are in place. Their average of 50 per wicket and economy rate of 7.69 during this period both the worst in the tournament. Daredevils, on the other hand, have taken 21 at an average of 29 and economy of 7.33.
- Daredevils' batsmen have the best run-rate in the first six overs this season - 664 runs at 7.90. Royal Challengers score at 7.00 in this period, but Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have usually made up for that later in the innings.
- The head to head between these sides after nine matches is 5-4 in Daredevils' favour. They lost the first match this season, in Bangalore, by 20 runs.
"Obviously before playing RCB, we will make our strategies and plans. We need to get him [Gayle] out early. Our plan would be to restrict their scoring and bowl them out as soon as possible … Pressure would be slightly less but we will look for wins in remaining fixtures."
Umesh Yadav, Daredevils fast bowler
"It gives me immense pleasure to announce that RCB is the first sports team in the world to officially become carbon neutral, without the purchase of carbon credits but through fan driven initiatives."
Sidhartha Mallya, Royal Challengers Bangalore owner
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo