Bangalore: The bottom-ranked Delhi Daredevils are desperately chasing their first victory after four outings, but it will not be easy against a mighty Royal Challengers Bangalore at their home ground. Delhi, the most consistent team in 2012, are sinking fast and will be up against the second-ranked team in IPL 6 which boats a batting line-up that includes Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in its top four. Needless to say, overcoming these three superstars will be Delhi's toughest task.
Delhi's season was rocked even before it began. Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder and Varun Aaron were ruled out and then Virender Sehwag, their biggest batsman, missed the three first games. His return coincided with Delhi's fourth loss, though the manner in which they fought tooth and tail against Sunrisers Hyderabad could give Mahela Jayawardene's team reason to believe.
What has also hurt is the non-performance of allrounder Irfan Pathan and wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha as well as Jayawardene's drop in form. Irfan has struggled to take wickets and conceded plenty of runs at the death; Ojha, crucial to Delhi's run in IPL 5, made nine runs in two matches and was dropped; and Jayawardene has hardly managed bat on ball after his brisk 66 in the season opener.
Desperate to claim their first points, Delhi Daredevils will have their task cut out against RCB at home with the strength of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers.
All this has left David Warner with much to do, and he has acquitted himself well with 159 runs in four innings including two fifties. His last outing to the crease produced a duck, so Warner will be geared up to take on RCB's bowling attack. What the team needs badly is for Warner, Sehwag and Jayawardene to click in unison to provide Delhi's bowlers a large total to defend against RCB, should they bat first.
Stopping RCB would mean getting rid of Gayle, skipper Kohli and de Villiers cheaply. The rest of the Bangalore batsmen have not made an impression, barring one cameo from allrounder Moises Henriques. Kohli (256), Gayle (195) and de Villiers (101) have scored a whopping 76% of the team's runs in IPL 6 so it is easy to see where Delhi's bowlers must strike.
RCB are coming off an agonizing last-ball loss to Chennai Super Kings - for the second year in a row during the league stage, with Ravindra Jadeja both times hitting the winning runs to third man, albeit in contrasting manner - but back at the MA Chinnaswamy Stadium they will be buoyed by the fanatical support the home fans provide. RCB have won both their matches at the venue this season.
Ravi Rampaul should hold his place down in the XI over Muttiah Muralitharan following 3 for 31 against CSK, but Murali Kartik could make way for another bowler after going wicketless for 29 in three overs. Daniel Christian could also be swapped for a like-for-like Australian replacement in Henriques. Left-arm spinner J Syed Mohammed did well with 2 for 15 and looks set to get more playing time.
Overall in the IPL, Delhi have a 4-3 record over RCB but their last win over the opposition came in 2010. They beat RCB both times in 2008, by 10 runs and five wickets respectively; in 2009 Delhi won by six wickets before RCB finally managed a win in a match crucial to their semi-final participation; in 2010, Delhi beat Bangalore by 17 runs. Since then, though, they have failed to stop RCB - in 2011 they ended up losing by three wickets and in 2012 by 21 runs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Daniel Christian/Moises Henriques, 6 Arun Karthik (wk), 7 Ravi Rampaul, 8 J Syed Mohammad, 9 R Vinay Kumar, 10 Murali Kartik/Jaydev Unadkat, 11 RP Singh
Delhi Daredevils: 1 David Warner, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Manprit Juneja, 5 Johan Botha, 6 Kedar Jadhav (wk), 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Siddharth Kaul