As IPL 2022 moves closer to the halfway stage, the race to consolidate a top-four spot gets intense. On Saturday, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will be up against each other in a bid to pull away from the mid-table traffic.
For Capitals, Prithvi Shaw has been imposing at the top, and forms a threatening opening pair with David Warner. In their previous game, the two gave Capitals a blazing start to set up the win against Kolkata Knight Riders.
In the bowling department, Mustafizur Rahman has been economical, while Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav have picked up big wickets. Their only concern has been the absence of a proven match-winner in the lower-middle order. If Mitchell Marsh is available for Saturday’s game, that will allow Rishabh Pant to bat at No. 5 and alleviate this problem.
Royal Challengers have bigger holes in their line-up, especially in the absence of Harshal Patel, their designated death bowler. Their other seamers – Mohammed Siraj and Akash Deep – haven’t fared well in that role. Siraj’s economy rate at the death this season has been 16.83 and that of Deep 20.11.
The closest like-for-like replacement Royal Challengers have for Harshal is Siddarth Kaul. Kaul had been a death bowler for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past and can do the same job for his current team. Akash Deep will have to sit out in that case.
Another issue for them has been the slow starts from their openers. Anuj Rawat was the Player of the Match for his 47-ball 66 against Mumbai Indians but his powerplay strike rate has been only 97.33. Faf du Plessis’ is even worse: 82.81. Royal Challengers will expect better from them in the upcoming matches.
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Marsh has started batting in the nets, and Capitals’ assistant coach Shane Watson told the Grade Cricketer on Friday that “it’s looking like he would be coming in for the next game”. If so, Rovman Powell will have to make way for him.
There has been no official update on Anrich Nortje’s fitness. But if available, Capitals may consider bringing him back.
Delhi Capitals 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 David Warner, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt, wk), 5 Lalit Yadav, 6 Sarfaraz Khan, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
Royal Challengers Bangalore 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Anuj Rawat, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Shahbaz Ahmed, 6 Suyash Prabhudessai, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Siddarth Kaul, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo