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RCB's chances hinge on fate and hope

Last updated on 12 Mar 2023 | 07:25 PM
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RCB's chances hinge on fate and hope

The second round of the league stage begins but RCB are still looking for a win

Royal Challengers Bangalore - lost by 10 wickets, lost 9 wickets, lost by 60 runs

Delhi Capitals - won by 10 wickets (77 balls remaining), won by 42 runs, won by 60 runs

The two teams started their inaugural WPL campaign against each other and have followed a different trajectory ever since. On paper, prior to the tournament, Bangalore appeared a more well-rounded team than many. Delhi, on the contrary, had a lop-sided balance - a long tail and some inexperience in their bowling attack. But T20 cricket has taught us that the team's balance is still secondary. Key players in peak form can supersede any blemish. And that has been the key difference between both sides. 

The likes of Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma have been relentless with the bat. Skipper Lanning holds the Orange Cap. Shafali blasted 76* off 28 balls on March 11 against the Gujarat Giants. Jemimah Rodrigues and Jess Jonassen have chipped in when required. And Marizanne Kapp’s five-for in the previous game have strengthened them further. 

In comparison, Bangalore are parched for runs from their skipper Smriti Mandhana. Everyone else has been a hit-and-miss. And there has been a collective failure in bowling. 

It is a do-or-die game for Bangalore’s star player. Still winless halfway through their campaign, the Challengers need to win all their remaining four games to stand a mathematical chance of sneaking in at the third spot. Delhi, meanwhile, would be sailing high on confidence after a 10-wicket win in their preceding game. 

Things to watch out for

RCB batting needs to step up

89/2 to 96/7, 39/0 to 43/4, 116/4 to 138 all out

These are just some of the batting collapses Bangalore have suffered in the season. In almost every game, they have started well but have slid inexplicably. There has been both poor running between the wickets and poor shot selections. The Indian core of Mandhana, Richa Ghosh and Kanika Ahuja have averaged 20, 10.25 and 10 respectively. It is clear that this core needs to stand up. 

But it is also high time that Bangalore include Dane van Niekerk in the XI. They brought in Erin Burns in the last game, but through no fault of her own, it is a baffling selection. Bangalore already possess two off-break options in Heather Knight and Shreyanka Patil. And van Niekerk is an upgraded like-for-like replacement, adding the variety of a leg-spinner and a more accomplished batter. 

Can RCB target the one chink in DC's armour?

Match 7 exposed Delhi on the batting front. They have the highest run-rate and average as yet, but that is largely because of their in-from top-order. They lack batting depth and arguably have the longest tail in the season. If one can take early wickets, it could prove easy to tame the rest of Delhi’s batting. Bangalore have picked only two wickets in the powerplay thus far but with the conditions assisting lateral movement of late, the onus will be on the likes of Renuka Singh, Ellyse Perry and Komal Zanzad to strike in the powerplay. At the same time, Delhi have batted at a run rate of 9.7 during the field restrictions which sets up a battle to watch out for in this fixture. 

Pitch and Conditions

Runs have been a tad tougher to come by at the DY Patil Stadium. The batters have scored at 8.1 an over at DY Patil, compared to 9.4 at Brabourne. Here, the batters have scored runs at an average of 24.9 and have been dismissed once every 18.4, which is significantly inferior to the Brabourne. 

The fast bowlers have been the ones doing the bulk of the damage on this track, accounting for nearly 60% of the wickets. The dew has barely played a part in the tournament so far, yet, batting first and making use of the wicket early on, and getting as close as possible to the 200-run mark will be key. 

Three of the five games here have been won by the chasing side. That is because starting the innings has been tricky at DY Patil, courtesy of the help available for the seamers. 

Anytime the team batting first has lost more than one wicket in the powerplay, they have ended up on the losing side. 

Tactical Nous 

> Megan Schutt has been underwhelming this season, picking only one wicket for 103 runs in three games. Consequently, she was dropped for RCB’s last game but match-ups suggest there is a case for her comeback. She has had an edge over a majority of Delhi batters. 

Schutt has dismissed Rodrigues thrice in all W-T20s (68 runs), Laura Harris thrice (46 runs) and most importantly, Lanning on four occasions (87 runs). It still looks like an improbable change given we have already spoken about the benefits of including van Niekerk in the side. However, if Schutt does walk back into the XI, it will purely be on the basis of these stats. 

> Although pacers have done well with the new ball at the Dr DY Patil Stadium, bowling spin to Mandhana right away won’t be a bad idea. All four of Mandhana’s dismissals this season have come against spin (average 9). She has a strike-rate of 112.5 against spin as compared to 157.14 despite facing a lot of spin in the powerplay itself. Delhi will have multiple spin bowling options so we can see a fast bowler paired with a spinner to share the new ball. 

> Pacers have not tested Shafali with the short-ball stuff. She has faced 60 balls of medium-pace so far, and only two were pitched in the short-length area and six others in the back-of-a-length region. Given her iffy reputation on those lengths, Bangalore should try bowling a few short balls as a surprise element in between full length deliveries eyeing for swing early on. 

Team Combination

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Estimating the changes of a side that has dropped four games in a row is always a shot in the dark. As things stand, van Niekerk coming in for Burns seems highly likely. 

Smriti Mandhana ( c ), Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Erin Burns/Dane van Niekerk, Richa Ghosh (wk), Kanika Ahuja, Shreyanka Patil, Renuka Singh, Komal Zanzad, Sahana Pawar

Delhi Capitals 

Delhi can field an unchanged side. Hence, Laura Harris, who didn’t get a chance to bat in the previous will continue in place of Alice Capsey.

Meg Lanning ( c ), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Marizanne Kapp, Laura Harris, Jess Jonassen, Minnu Mani, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, Tara Norris

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