Their IPL math is at a stage where just a win won’t suffice but, before turning to prayers, both Delhi Capitals and Lucknow Super Giants would be eager to get that ‘W’ against their name to fuel their dimming playoffs hopes.

A fumble towards the business end has left both DC and LSG at 12 points ahead of their clash in Delhi on Tuesday, although the visitors have an extra game in hand. Even then, two wins will only take LSG to 16 points from where they will have to hope for both CSK and SRH to drop all their remaining games. Likewise for DC, two losses in last three games have left them precariously placed and with an outlandish scenario to qualify – not only do they have to win big against LSG, DC are also hoping for SRH go down by significant margins to stay ahead on NRR in case of a 14-point tie. A narrow win for DC will almost certainly knock both them and LSG out of the race.

Delhi have only themselves to blame for their fate, going down to RCB on Sunday evening despite having restricted them to a sub-par 187/9. While the bowlers helped stage a remarkable comeback in the second half of the innings, DC had let the game slip early with the two dropped chances each off RCB’s two top-scorers in the game. Axar Patel led from the front, standing-in, but Delhi will be eager to welcome their regular captain Rishabh Pant back into the XI after serving a one-match suspension for the team’s third over-rate offence of the season – in the game against RR at home.

The spotlight would equally be on his counterpart with LSG playing their first game since KL Rahul was seen to be at the receiving end of an animated chat with the team owner after the big defeat in Hyderabad. His intent in the PowerPlay has often come under scrutiny and alongwith Quinton de Kock’s indifferent form, mounted pressure on the misfiring middle-order. LSG could muster only 165 against SRH, and the home team’s in-form openers took just 9.4 overs to chase it down while severely denting LSG’s NRR that’s now the poorest (-0.769) among the three teams on 12 points.

Not only powerplays, where they have the second-lowest run-rate of 8.15 in IPL 2024, LSG have also fared poorly at the death – their last five-over average of 10.35 is the least among the ten teams. Incidentally, DC are no better, though, having fared only marginally above LSG in death overs at 10.65. DC have lost the most number of wickets – 27 – in PowerPlays and have used the maximum number of players in their top-three (9), which was partly due to the number of injuries to hit their camp.

However, the one silver-lining to that was the emergence of Jake Fraser-McGurk. Of the 293 batters to have faced at least 100 balls in IPL history, Fraser-McGurk is the only one with a strike-rate above 200 (237.41). And it all started in Lucknow when, coming in at one-down, the Australian hit a 31-ball fifty on debut that eventually led to Delhi’s mid-season resurgence.

When: Delhi Capitals vs Lucknow Super Giants, May 14 at 19:30 IST

Where: Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi

What to expect: Another run-fest. The first innings average at the Arun Jaitley stadium has been 242 in IPL 2024. With both teams still chasing qualification, bowling first could be the way to go, whether or not dew will make an appearance.

Head to Head: 3-1 to Lucknow. Incidentally, the win in the reverse fixture in Lucknow was Delhi’s first against LSG in three seasons.

Teams Watch

Delhi Capitals

Injuries & Availability: Pant returns after sitting out against RCB for a slow over-rate related suspension.

Tactics & Matchups: Kuldeep Yadav has had the wood over Nicholas Pooran in T20 cricket. The wristspinner handed Pooran a golden duck in their previous meeting in IPL 2024, and has dismissed him a total of five times in all T20s. The otherwise big-hitting Pooran’s strike-rate also drops to just about 91 against Kuldeep in this format, making it an exciting middle-overs match-up to watch out for.

Probable XI: David Warner, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Abishek Porel, Rishabh Pant (C, wk), Shai Hope, Tristan Stubbs, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mukesh Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed [Impact sub: Rasikh Salam]

Lucknow Super Giants

Injuries & Availability: Mohsin Khan sat out the last game due to an injury and could return to the XI in Delhi.

Tactics & Matchups: LSG would be well aware of Pant’s declining strike-rate (~115) against spinners in IPL 2024, and his troubles against legspin in particular. The DC captain was dismissed by Ravi Bishnoi in the reverse fixture, making it an exciting re-match. Pant strikes at only 112.5 against him, and has lost his wicket to Bishnoi twice. He’s also been dismissed thrice by Krunal Pandya in IPL, though his strike-rate against the left-arm spinner is a staggering 179.5.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock, KL Rahul (C, wk), Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Mohsin Khan/Arshin Kulkarni, Yash Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Naveen-ul-Haq [Impact sub: Arshin Kulkarni/K Gowtham]

Did you know?

– KL Rahul is four away from registering 400 fours in IPL. He’s 40 away from entering the 500-run club this year

– Axar Patel will be playing his 150th IPL match

What they said

“We are aware that it’s a high-scoring ground but high-scoring grounds normally take care of themselves. Good surface, a fast outfield on a smallish ground – that’s just naturally what happens. So, I don’t think you have to suddenly transform faster than you need to. I’m sure we can get batters to come in with a decent platform to launch of, we’ll be good. That’s probably something that we need to just focus on – making sure we’re not losing wickets at stages where we feel we constantly need to be rebuilding.” – Lance Klusener.

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