It’s a race against time when Royal Challengers Bangalore travel to table-toppers Delhi Daredevils in their return leg of the Indian Premier League season five at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Thursday. In their previous encounter against Delhi on April 7, which was also their first match, RCB had come out on top with a 20-run win. A lot has changed since then as now they are fighting for survival and their task toughens all the more against a team that became the first side to qualify for the play-offs with a five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday.
Bangalore, like Delhi, heavily rely on how their openers Chris Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan to perform, and it’s their bowling that’s a big concern. Both Gayle and Dilshan are in superb touch. Gayle – the Orange Cap holder with 578 runs - has been in the form of his life and Dilshan has provided him good support at the other end. AB de Villiers is another in-form batsman and a lot would depend on how this trio responds to Delhi's bowling that boasts of pace bowlers such as Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. In their bowling ranks, Bangalore have seasoned campaigners Zaheer Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan and they have done a decent job themselves, but they have failed to inspire the lesser bowlers such as Vinay Kumar, K Appanna and Harshal Patel. In their last match against Mumbai Indians, it was their bowling that was found wanting when defending an impressive total of 171 for 6.
The Delhi camp is a lot happier than the Bangalore camp. However, their heavy reliance on their top order has been a concern and whenever the openers - Virender Sehwag and David Warner - have not made significant contributions, the team has struggled. In the match against Punjab, they made heavy weather of a modest chase before Mahela Jayawardene came to their rescue with an unbeaten 56. Also, Ross Taylor has been out of form and Delhi can ill-afford his prolonged poor run with the bat.
Bangalore are in a must-win situation against Delhi, and a loss on Thursday can hurt their campaign fatally.
Out of their 14 matches, Bangalore have won seven, lost six, while one tie was washed out. A loss against Delhi can be the end of the road for them, and they would surely not want that. So expect it to be a cracker of a match.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 David Warner, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Naman Ojha (wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Pawan Negi 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Aaron
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Mayank Agarwal, 7 Vinay Kumar, 8 Zaheer Khan, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 KP Appanna