If the points table was the only indicator then the clash between two middling sides would promise only a lukewarm battle. However, their recent form paints a completely different story. Delhi Capitals have won three of their last four games. They’ve found some much-needed impetus through the record-breaking Jake Fraser-McGurk mainly with the likes of Rishabh Pant and Abishek Porel making useful contributions to shore up the batting order. It has allowed their bowlers to create a bigger impact overall, keeping them alive in the race for playoffs.

The scenario is not too different for RCB who come into this match with four wins on the trot. That too has been in part due to a batting revolution. The introduction of Will Jacks, the reinvention of sorts for Virat Kohli as a spin-hitter and timely cameos from the lower-order has given their batting unit a formidable face. It has allowed them to bring in a India-heavy bowling unit that has so far stood up to the task.

It sets up Sunday’s clash on a relatively even-scale although Delhi will be hampered by the ban imposed on their skipper Rishabh Pant. Delhi Capitals have confirmed that Axar Patel will be leading in Pant’s absence which would make room for an Indian middle-order batter to walk into the line-up. David Warner’s availability is subject to how he’d pull through in the practice sessions and Delhi would be gunning to cover all their bases well to not lose out on the momentum built up.

The high stakes, however, could be dampened if rain plays spoilsport. It would mean that an already convoluted race of making it to the playoffs will have an additional metric thrown into the works. Delhi might still have a chance in case of a washout, but RCB would stand eliminated if there is a no result.

When: Royal Challengers Bengaluru vs Delhi Capitals, May 12, 2024 at 19:30 IST

Where: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

What to expect: The city has seen showers in the days leading up to the fixture which could once again play a part on the match day. Traditionally the ground has seen high scores come at great frequency given the boundary sizes but the effects of rain could play a vital factor.

Head to head:RCB 18 – 11 DC

TeamsRoyal Challengers Bengaluru

Injuries/unavailability: No reported worries for RCB.

Tactics & Match-ups:While Delhi’s spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel have been outstanding so far in the season, their pace front has cut a sorry figure with Khaleel Ahmed’s E/R of 9.68 being the best. It offers a chance for RCB to target the bowlers based on form on a ground with small boundaries. On the bowling front, Karn Sharma could be at the center of bowling plans to the likes of Tristan Stubbs and Jake-Fraser McGurk who have been dismissed five times combined against legspin in IPL 2024 despite having high strike-rates against this kind of bowling.

Probable XI: Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, Will Jacks, Rajat Patidar, Cameron Green, Dinesh Karthik, Swapnil Singh, Karn Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal [Impact Sub: Mahipal Lomror]

Delhi Capitals

Injuries/Availability: The absence of Rishabh Pant will force DC to make changes. The chances of Prithvi Shaw replacing him as an Indian batter is an option while they could also try to fit in David Warner [injury permitting] to get some experience in the absence of Pant. Head coach Ricky Ponting also floated the idea of fielding Jhye Richardson as an option upfront to counter RCB’s top-order.

Tactics & Match-ups:The introduction of Axar Patel in the powerplay is a possibility given the match-up option he offers against RCB’s openers Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli who both have a strike-rate hovering around just 110 against the spinner. The latter though has shown marked improvement in spin hitting but it’s a gamble that DC might take. On the bowling front, there could be a ploy to exploit Rajat Patidar’s seeming weakness against pace having been dimissed 8 times against their kind, with four of them being against left-arm pace.

Probable XI: Jake Fraser-McGurk, Prithvi Shaw, Abishek Porel, David Warner/Shai Hope, Tristan Stubbs, Gulbadin Naib/Jhye Richardson, Axar Patel, Rasikh Salam, Kuldeep Yadav, Mukesh Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed [Impact Sub: Ishant Sharma]

Did you know:

Mohammad Siraj has dismissed Rishabh Pant four times in all T20s

– Virat Kohli has hit 15 fours and 13 sixes against spin in IPL 2024

– RCB are one of the two teams (Punjab Kings being the other) to have lost more than they’ve won at their home venue in IPL 2024

What they said

“As a team we’ve known for about six-seven games that he’s been on two strikes so there was a chance. We could have actually stood him down as a captain to potentially stop this happening. But at the end of the day, like it or not, it’s the captain’s responsibility for the time that’s taken on the field. He doesn’t have full control over everything. Circumstantailly, he was a little unlucky in the last game. Going into Khaleel’s last over, the over where he bowled four wides in, at that stage we were only three minutes behind. If Khaleel had bowled a regulation over there without the extra balls and then Kuldeep comes in next over and got a wicket like he did, we would have got all that time back. So the fact that Khaleel’s over went for nine minutes and in that stage of the game, there’s no way we can drag it back. – Ricky Ponting on Rishabh Pant missing out.

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