Raipur, May 21 (IANS) As the Indian Premier League (IPL) gears up for its business end, a confident Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will lock horns with a rejuvenated Delhi Daredevils for a virtual knock-out clash here on Sunday.
On a roll after notching three consecutive wins, RCB are at the third spot with 14 points from 13 matches while Delhi have as many points but are placed sixth in the table, lagging behind the Virat Kohli-led side only in net run-rate.
Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians too have 14 points each with just one match to go in their league stage.
Going into Sunday’s encounter, it will be a battle between RCB’s strong batting line-up, consisting of the dangerous trio of Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers and Delhi’s bowling led by the seasoned Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra.
Bangalore will once again bank on their skipper, who has turned into an epitome of consistency with the willow. The Delhi right-hander has not only smashed four tons to score 865 runs from 13 matches this edition but also surpassed Suresh Raina to be the highest run-getter in the lucrative tournament.
Kohli, who defied a split webbing to notch his fourth century of the IPL, has lately found support from his opening partner Gayle.
The West Indian power-hitter found his touch at the right juncture while South African de Villiers has been equally successful in destroying the opposition bowlers’ economy rates.
Considered the team’s weak link, the bowling department has slowly started to improve with the spin-pace duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Shane Watson taking 16 wickets each so far. England’s Chris Jordan showed glimpses of his impressive best in the last outing.
Despite a poor start, RCB have pulled off four wins in the last five matches to be on the verge of a play-off spot and one more win should give them a passage from the league stage.
On the other hand, coming back from a last ball thrilling win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi will depend heavily on their skipper Zaheer and senior leg-spinner Mishra to counter RCB’s batting prowess.
The team’s success will also depend on all-rounders Chris Morris and Carlos Brathwaite to not only restrict RCB’s fireworks but also wield the willow at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium.
After leading the team to a six-wicket win on Friday, Delhi’s hopes on the batting front will be on Karun Nair, alongwith the likes of in-form South African stumper Quinton de Kock, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson.