This is the third time this IPL that Delhi Capitals are coming back to their home venue, Feroz Shah Kotla, full of exuberance and positivity. They first did so on the high of having beaten Mumbai Indians in Mumbai. Then they did so having built a three-match winning streak on the road, in Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad. On both occasions they came crashing down thanks largely to a slow and low home surface.
On this homecoming, Capitals are on their highest high. They have won seven out of their 11 matches - teams have previously qualified with seven wins - and are looking for that one win to all but ensure progress to the next round. You might wager they are more or less in, but these wins can take them into the top two, which gives them two shots at making the final.
Up against them is an opposition on a streak itself, defying elimination, which has looked imminent for weeks now. Royal Challengers are hanging by a thread, but are not letting go of that thread. In their last three wins in a row, they have beaten Chennai Super Kings even though MS Dhoni needed two off the last ball, and Kings XI Punjab, who won the first 17 overs of each innings.
It's streak v streak now; one team is gunning for the top spot, the other fighting for another match of life. At the heart of it will be adaptation to a slow surface and an accurate forecast of the dew. In the last set of matches in Delhi, Mumbai Indians defended easily with no dew, and Capitals chased relatively easily thanks to the dew.
In the news
Dale Steyn won't be coming back for Royal Challengers after he injected life into their campaign with a mid-season entry. His shoulder injury has cast a shadow over his participation in the World Cup too. That isn't the only absence RCB will worry about. Moeen Ali too is back home for a preparatory camp with England ahead of the World Cup.
Capitals went to Bangalore, restricted the hosts to 149 and then chased it down without much bother and with seven balls to spare.
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
Royal Challengers Bangalore 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt.), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Shimron Hetmyer/Colin de Grandhomme, 5 Akshdeep Nath, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Washington Sundar/Pawan Negi, 8 Umesh Yadav, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Nitin Saini
- AB de Villiers has been the spirit of Royal Challengers' survival this season, but against Capitals he will have to work harder than against other teams. Since 2017, Kagiso Rabada has got him out in two balls. His problems against left-arm spin are well-documented too. So expect Capitals to attack him with Rabada and Axar Patel or even Ishant Sharma, who has managed to keep him quiet.
- Shikhar Dhawan has been a success story for Capitals, playing the role of the senior batsman among extravagant youngsters but without dropping his strike rate too much. He had to work hard to get there after an insipid start to the season. However, he doesn't have a great record against the traditional outswing bowling of Tim Southee and Umesh Yadav. Also Yuzvendra Chahal has troubled him. The trio could be Royal Challengers' bowlers inside the Powerplay.
Stats that matter
- Ten players have scored more than 4000 runs in the IPL. Only Chris Gayle has a better strike rate than AB de Villiers' 151.57. Gayle scores 0.2 run more over 100 balls.
- Second-innings scores at Kotla this year have ranged between 128 and 185, all depending on the dew in the night.
- With 150 wickets to his name, Amit Mishra is the second-most successful bowler in IPL, behind Lasith Malinga's 166.
- Powerplay runs are crucial, and Shikhar Dhawan has scored the fourth-highest in that period this season. Among batsmen from these two teams, he also holds the best strike rate inside the Powerplay.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo