Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bangalore need to emerge from crisis of confidence
DC have lost their last four games, and RCB three.
Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore were moving jauntily into the playoffs when both teams inexplicably went off the rails in the last 8-10 days.
DC have lost their last four games, and RCB three. Both teams have been stranded on 14 points for a fair while, needing one win to reach the last four stage, but that has proved agonisingly elusive.
Monday night’s clash will make the winner secure of a place in the playoffs, but the loser will remain vulnerable: at the mercy of other match results and the Net Run Rate.
Delhi’s decline has been the more pronounced because the team looked in such scintillating form in the first few weeks of the IPL.
The batting was in top form, the bowling perhaps even better, and collectively this made for a team high on energy, adrenaline and ambition. Then everything went phut.
Injury to Pant necessitated a change in combination from where Delhi’s slide began and has not been arrested as yet, even though Pant is back and the original playing combination restored.
The top order is now struggling for runs, leading to pressure on the lower order as well as the bowlers forced to defend meagre scores. This has upset the rhythm of the attack and in the past two matches, Kagiso Rabada and Ravichandran Ashwin have failed to take a wicket!
RCB’s problems are not as widespread, but no less serious for that. While Devdutt Padikkal has been a find, and Josh Phillipe has chipped in usefully, RCB are overly dependent on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers for runs.
If both don’t make decent contributions, at least one must play a substantial knock for the team to run up a defendable score. If both fall short, the team stumbles badly.
Both teams need to emerge from the crisis of confidence which brought their progress to a standstill. This will not happen on cricketing skills alone, rather which team holds its nerve better, has the greater instinct for survival.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
Players to watch out for:
Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada (DC); Virat Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal (RCB)
X Factor: Ravichandran Ashwin
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