Delhi take on RCB as race for last four spot heats up
Assured of a place in the play-offs, Delhi Daredevils will look to sort out their middle-order woes when they take on a desperate Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Indian Premier League match, in New Delhi on Thursday.
Delhi can afford to play without pressure and that is even more dangerous for Bangalore, who need to win their last two matches to qualify for the knockout stage.
Delhi's reliance on their top order has been a concern and whenever the openers have not made significant contributions, they have failed to put up a challenging score or faced difficulties in chasing totals.
It happened on Tuesday as well when chasing a modest total of 137 -- they had to work quite hard. In these situations, Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene has always helped their cause and Tuesday was no different.
Among their middle-order batsmen, Ross Taylor has been out of form and Delhi can ill-afford his continuous poor run with the bat.
Image: Delhi Daredevils players
Morkel has been Delhi's strike bowler
With the last two league matches left before the knockout stage, Delhi will be keen to see that all their middle-order batsmen get enough overs under their belt.
Naman Ojha must have got some confidence by contributing in Tuesday's win with his cameo. The talent of Taylor, Y Venugopal Rao and Ojha is beyond doubt but now the league has reached stage where one off-day could lead to their ouster.
The matches in the play-off stage are all important now for Delhi and their dominant show in the league stage will mean nothing, if they do not deliver at the business end of the tournament.Thankfully, their bowling has been stupendous. Led by paceman Morne Morkel they have delivered in most of the matches and that is what makes them a more balanced side than others.
Image: Morne Morkel
Bangalore relying heavily on Gayle, Dilshan
Bangalore like Delhi too rely heavily on how their openers -- Chris Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan -- perform and their main issue is bowling.
Both Gayle and Dilshan are in superb touch. Gayle has been in more devastating form and Dilshan has mostly carried the innings through.
AB de Villiers is other in-form batsman and a lot would depend how this trio responds to Delhi's challenge. Virat Kohli has also made a few contributions.
Zaheer Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan are their main weapons but others will have to chip in as the race to the play-offs is very close and a lot of teams are in contention with few matches left.
In their last match too, the batters did a fantastic job by putting up a 170-plus total but the bowlers failed to defend it against Mumbai Indians.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (C), Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Puneet Bisht, Robin Bist, Naman Ojha (wk), Shahbaz Nadeem, Venugopal Rao, Vikas Mishra, Yogesh Nagar, Zafir Patel, Sunny Gupta, Tejashwi Yadav, Aavishkar Salvi, Kuldeep Raval, Manpreet Juneja, Pawan Negi, Prashant Naik, Aaron Finch, Andre Russell, Doug Bracewell, Glenn Maxwell, Gulam Bodi, Morne Morkel and Roelf van der Merwe.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Daniel Vettori (C), Mayank Agarwal, KP Appanna, Prashanth Parameswaran, Arun Karthik, Raju Bhatkal, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Mohammad Kaif, Abrar Kazi, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Charl Langeveldt, Andrew McDonald, Abhimanyu Mithun, Muttiah Muralitharan, Karun Nair, Dirk Nannes, M Gautam, Ryan Ninan, Asad Pathan, Luke Pomersbach, Harshal Patel, Asad Pathan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rilee Rossouw, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, S Thiyagarajan, Saurabh Tiwary, R Vinay Kumar, Vijay Zol.
Image: Chris Gayle