Stage is set for a virtual knockout as a rampaging Royal Challengers Bangalore, led by inspirational skipper Virat Kohli, lock horns with an inconsistent Delhi Daredevils in their final IPL Twenty20 cricket match in Raipur on Sunday.
After 13 matches, RCB are at the third spot with 14 points, while Delhi have as many points but are placed sixth in the table, lagging behind RCB only in net run-rate.
In fact, two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians too have 14 points each with just one match to go in their league stage.
With a hattrick of wins, Bangalore have been on a roll with skipper Kohli enjoying one of the best phases of his career as he has four centuries under his belt. He is the only batsman to score more than 800 runs in a single edition and has 865 runs from 13 matches thus far.
Despite sustaining a split webbing in his left hand while fielding against Kolkata Knight Riders, Kohli has shown no signs of relenting. His teammates AB de villiers and Chris Gayle also dished out some sizzling batting display as RCB’s much vaunted batting line-up gave nightmares to their opposition by rattling up three of the four 200-plus totals this season.
In bowling department, spin-pace duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Shane Watson have served Bangalore well with 16 wickets each so far in the season. On the other hand, Delhi, after back-to-back losses, notched up a last-ball six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad last night to keep their Play-off hopes alive.
Zaheer Khan’s men have been inconsistent but they still somehow managed to keep themselves in contention and will hope to pull the rug from under the feet of RCB one more time like they did on April 17.
Delhi’s batting has revolved much around Quinton de Kock, who has been the most consistent batsman for them. Karun Nair and Sanju Samson too have contributed and team’s fortunes would depend on them.
Other domestic players like Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Rishab Pant and Pawan Negi have been inconsistent and mentor Rahul Dravid has his task cut out to spur them up.
In bowling, Delhi have depended on leg-spinner Amit Mishra and seamer Chris Morris to get the breakthroughs and it will be important how Zaheer marshals his bowling unit against Kohli and co.
For Delhi, Carlos Brathwaite has not fired consistently but remains one of the key players, who can change the complexion of the game any time.
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (Captain), Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Mayank Agarwal, Amit Mishra, Sanju Samson, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Imran Tahir, Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant, Sam Billings, Carlos Brathwaite, Khaleel Ahmed, Akhil Herwadkar, Mahipal Lomror, Chama Milind, Shahbaz Nadeem, Pratyush Singh, Pawan Suyal, Jayant Yadav.
RCB: Virat Kohli (captain), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, KL Rahul, Sachin Baby, Varun Aaron, Abu Nechim, Sreenath Aravind, Stuart Binny, Yuzvendra Chahal, Travis Head, Iqbal Abdullah, Kedar Jadhav, Chris Jordan, David Wiese, Akshay Karnewar, Sarfaraz Khan, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, Parveez Rasool, Harshal Patel, Kane Richardson, Tabraiz Shamshi, Vikas Tokas, Praveen Dubey.