Stakes are high for Virat Kohli's men as a loss could bring down curtains to their 2019 campaign
Rishabh Pant and his unconventional ways have fuelled the Delhi Capitals' (DC) rare title charge and on April 28, they confront Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the capital city, where ironically, Kohli first learned the ABCs of cricket.
There has been no looking back since Kohli's RCB arrested a long losing streak on April 19 in Kolkata.
RCB will enter the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, a very familiar place for their captain Kohli, on the back of a three-match winning run. But the visitors will still have to play out of their skins to stop Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly's rampaging outfit.
A win will ensure that Delhi, who are currently in the third spot behind Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, reach the cut-off limit of 16 points needed for a play-off berth.
Delhi's performance at home has been woeful, but having registered a win after two consecutive losses, the Shreyas Iyer-led outfit will be high on confidence.
RCB will not be short on confidence either as the team seems to have regrouped successfully and found their groove. They won their last three games defeating the Kolkata Knight Riders, table topper CSK and Kings XI Punjab. The wins had briefly lifted the Bengaluru based outfit from the bottom of the table to the penultimate spot. They have eight points from 11 games.
"The only focus was to play well as a team. Losing six in a row really hurt us. Literally no one in the team has been part of such a streak. So we just refreshed, thought about just enjoying ourselves and the important thing now is not to take on any pressure," Kohli had said after his team beat KXIP.
Delhi Capitals boast a solid batting line up with a perfect blend of experience and youth.
In their last match where they chased 192 against Rajasthan Royals, openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan laid the foundation with a 72-run stand, which was followed by a blistering unbeaten 73-run knock by young Pant, who proved a point after being left out of India's World Cup bound squad in favour of Dinesh Karthik.
With Dhawan and Shaw at the top and the likes of Iyer, Pant and Colin Ingram to follow, Delhi would start as a confident batting unit.
In the bowling department, Delhi rely heavily on Kagiso Rabada although they have variety in medium pacer Ishant Sharma, seamer Chris Morris and spinners Sandeep Lamichhane, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel.
For RCB, the likes of AB de Villiers, Kohli, Moeen Ali and Marcus Stoinis will look to capitalise on Delhi's inconsistent record at home.
However, their bowling remains a worry. RCB were dealt a huge blow when newly recruited Dale Steyn, who was brought in to replace the injured Nathan Coulter Nile, was ruled out of the IPL due to a shoulder inflammation.
RCB will draw inspiration from Navdeep Saini's match-winning penultimate over effort against KXIP. The fast bowler had taken the crucial wickets of Nicholas Pooran and David Miller, giving away only three runs to hand his side the win.
Timing – 4 pm
Venue – Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi
Where to watch – Star Sports 1/1HD/1 Hindi/1HD Hindi/1 Tamil/1 Telugu/1 Kannada/1 Bangla/Select 1/Select 1HD. Online viewers can catch the action live on Hotstar
Head to Head
The two teams have met 23 times. RCB has managed wins on 15 occasions, while DC has emerged victorious 8 times.
When the two teams met each other earlier in the season in Bangalore, Delhi mauled Bangalore by 4 wickets. A decent 41 from Virat Kohli and a quickfire 32 runs off 18 balls helped RCB post 149/8 in 20 overs. Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the bowlers for his brilliant spell of 4-0-21-4. Riding on the back of Shreyas Iyer's solid 67, DC later chased the total down in just 18.5 overs.
RCB pacer Dale Styen has returned to South Africa after a shoulder inflammation. No injury news from DC.
At home, Delhi's form has been shoddy. Coupling their poor run at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground along with Bangalore's superb run, and we have RCB as favorite to win this encounter.
Betting Odds (bet365)
Delhi Capitals: 1
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 4/5
Other popular bets on the match can be checked on Oddschecker.
Pitch Report at Feroz Shah Kotla
Feroz Shah Kotla's pitch has been on slower side this season. The ball doesn't come onto the bat with ease, and that makes run scoring difficult. Expect a low run scoring affair.
Moneycontrol Dream XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, AB de Villiers, Rishabh Pant, Moeen Ali, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma.
Players to watch out for:
Kagiso Rabada (DC)
Kagiso Rabada has scalped 23 wickets this season and holds the Purple cap. The speedster has picked wickets at an average of 14.65.
AB de Villiers (RCB)
At 414 runs, AB de Villiers is RCB's leading run scorer in 2019. He is averaging 59.14 and has a strike rate of 158.01.
IPL Points table
On the points table, DC are placed third with 14 points. RCB is at eight place after it managed to get 8 points from 11 outings. Check the updated points table here.
(with PTI inputs)