Challengers in survival battle

Challengers in survival battle

It might be called the clash of titans. The only difference being that Delhi Daredevils have cruised to the play-offs while Royal Challengers Bangalore is still fighting for a place among the remaining three. The heat, therefore, will be on RCB, who face an assured Daredevils at Ferozeshah Kotla on Thursday.

A defeat on the morrow against the table-toppers will almost certainly end RCB’s chances to qualify for the play-off. Royal Challengers have 15 points from 14 outings, and after the Delhi game, they will face Deccan Chargers in their last league encounter on May 20 at Hyderabad.
The 2011 runners-up are engaged in a tight scramble for a spot in the play-offs with Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, who are all within striking distance of RCB, who are currently placed fifth in the table.
 The nett run-rate factor too is not in the Bangalore team’s favour — a well below-par -0.072 placing them in a real spot.

So, it’s imperative for the Bangalore side to produce a blemishless effort against the in-form Daredevils upfront before thinking of the Chargers. Their batting, shouldered by Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers, has delivered the goods on more than one occasion, and the touch of Mayank Agarwal, who made a blistering fifty against Mumbai Indians, has added another dimension to their batting.

Skipper and local lad Virat Kohli, yet to hit the top gear in the competition, has contributed mightily on the field with his effervescent presence.
However, the patchiness of their bowling department has hurt the progress of RCB massively in the competition.

They have struggled to find a worthy name for the fifth bowler’s slot, relying largely on part-timers like Gayle, Dilshan and Kohli to chip in with a few overs, and the strategy has came back to haunt them quite often.

RCB were in drivers’ seat in the match against Mumbai, but KP Appanna and Gayle conceded 58 runs in 3.4 overs between them as Harbhajan Singh’s side completed a dramatic last-over win that severely dented RCB’s standing. The form of Zaheer Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan has indeed been a comforting factor for them, but others are yet to support them with more consistent efforts.

In contrast, the Daredevils, who have raced to the knock-out stage with 20 points, have little worries except their underwhelming middle-order, caused mainly due to the poor form of Ross Taylor.

Having assured themselves a place in the knock-out stage, Daredevils might take this match as an opportunity to work on their shortcomings besides looking at experimenting with their combination. West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell, who has been warming the benches for long, could come into eleven on the morrow.

But the good thing for the Daredevils has been the support from the bowlers. When the batting has slackened, the bowlers have stepped up to assume the savior’s role. It was heartening to see the two young fast bowlers -- Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav -- bowling their heart out. Add to it the presence of Morne Morkel, who has taken 21 wickets thus far, the Delhi bowling line-up assume a menacing look. It will be an interesting clash between Delhi’s explosive bowling unit and RCB’s mighty batsmen.

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