Big picture

Playing at home is always an advantage. The familiar conditions give you the chance to dominate the opposition. Except when you are Delhi Capitals (or Daredevils). Out of the 69 IPL games they have played at Feroz Shah Kotla over the years, they have won 30, giving them a win percentage of just 44.1.

Capitals have done marginally better this time. Their home record in IPL 2019 stands at three wins and three losses from six games. The other things they have done well this time is qualifying for the playoffs - for the first time since 2012 - and now have a chance to throw their hat in the ring for a valuable top-two finish.

However, when they face Rajasthan Royals at home on Saturday, they will once again be without Kagiso Rabada, out for the remainder of the tournament after picking up a back injury. Moreover, Royals have a better overall record at the Kotla, with four wins and as many losses from eight games.

A win will take Capitals to 18 points, and if Mumbai lose their last league game - against Kolkata Knight Riders - Capitals will likely finish second on the points table. But a loss may jeopardise their chances given their negative net run-rate (-0.096).

Royals, on the other hand, are hanging by the thinnest of threads after a washout against Royal Challengers Bangalore. To make it to the playoffs, they not only need to beat Capitals but also hope that Sunrisers Hyderabad lose to Royal Challengers Bangalore, and for the winners of the Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders to lose their last match.

But Royals must be confident as they are coming into this game on the back of two successive wins in their last two completed games while Capitals had a heavy defeat against Chennai Super Kings in their previous match.

In the news

Rabada has been ruled out of the IPL. He had complained of discomfort after Capitals' match against Royal Challengers on April 28, then missed Capitals' last match, against Super Kings on Wednesday, and has since gone back to South Africa.

For Royals, with Steven Smith having returned to Australia, Ajinkya Rahane will once again assume the captaincy role.

Previous meeting

When these two sides met earlier in the tournament, Rishabh Pant's scintillating 78 not out off 36 balls outshone Rahane's unbeaten 105 as Capitals chased down Royals' 191 with four wickets and as many balls in hand.

Likely XIs

Delhi Capitals: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Colin Ingram, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Chris Morris, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Sherfane Rutherford, 9 J Suchith, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Trent Boult

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 Liam Livingstone, 3 Sanju Samson (wk), 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Ashton Turner, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Shreyas Gopal, 9 Jaydev Unadkat, 10 Varun Aaron, 11 Oshane Thomas

Strategy punt

  • Chris Morris has conceded 180 runs in the 18 overs - for an economy of 10.0 - he has bowled in the first 15 overs of an innings so far. In contrast, his returns at the death - where you would normally expect a bowler to leak runs - have been exceptional: ten wickets at an economy of 8.4. In Rabada's absence, it makes sense for Capitals to use Morris as much as possible at the death.

  • With five wickets in three matches, Oshane Thomas has lived up to expectations. Among the Royals pacers to have bowled this year, Thomas has the best average (13.2), best economy (7.3) and best strike rate (10.8). Thomas has picked up wickets in all three phases too. Therefore, Royals should use him in short bursts.

Stats that matter

  • With 18 wickets in 13 matches, Shreyas Gopal is currently the third leading wicket-taker this season. Shreyas has picked up 13 wickets with googlies, the most by a spinner in IPL 2019. And significantly, all his wickets have been of top-order batsmen (No. 1 to No. 5).

  • Rahane needs 14 more to bring up 5,000 T20 runs.

  • Shikhar Dhawan is four short of 100 sixes in the IPL.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo