Few days ago, it seemed there was no light at the end of tunnel for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The team was brought to its knees by sloppy bowling, inconsistent batting and scratchy fielding efforts. Shoulders were down, fielders were trudging along the ground and the coaches witnessed defeats helplessly. Known to lead by example if not for shrewd captaincy, Virat Kohli seemed clueless as if he had no idea how to lift the team’s morale up. Then Dale Steyn happened and the entire plot structure of RCB’s story changed.

While chances are that this fairy tale may not end on a happy note for the boys in red, what’s captivating is the turnaround, anchored by the likes of Kohli, de Villiers and Steyn. They have won their last four games out of five, including three on the bounce. But mathematically, the team can still make it to the play-offs provided they win their remainder of matches with a considerable margin.

On Sunday, the team will be up against an in-form Delhi Capitals and hope not to lose the momentum they have been desperately seeking for. With Moeen Ali gone for national team’s services against Pakistan ahead of the World Cup, much will ride on the shoulders of inspirational Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers even as the team will look to plug in the gap.

Ali has been instrumental to the team’s cause with his all-round performance, scoring 220 runs at a staggering strike-rate of 165.41. He scalped six wickets at an average of 28.16. In the game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the 31-year-old’s 66 runs provided much needed foil to Kohli’s century.

While the batters – Parthiv Patel, Kohli – will look to provide a good start in the powerplay overs, it will be upon de Villiers to accelerate the innings on a pitch ( Feroz Shah Kotla) that has been at the receiving end of criticism owing to its sluggishness and slowish nature.

On a spin friendly strip, Yuzvendra Chahal might prove to be their trump card in stopping Delhi’s prowess with the bat. In the pace department, Steyn-less Bengaluru team with the likes of Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini would look to pluck wickets and provide the team with a decent start.

On a high, Ponting’s Delhi Capitals sit comfortably third on the points table with a tally of 14 points from their 11 matches, which include seven wins and four losses. Their only worry at this point is their performance in home conditions but they did break the jinx in their last match against Rajasthan Royals.

Shikhar Dhawan has led the batting troops from the front, and has been the highest scorer for Delhi (401 runs in 11 matches). Expectations are always high when his younger partner, Prithvi Shaw is on the crease. Compared with greats like Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, Shaw’s show with the bat is something people wait with bated breath.

The team will look for useful contributions from their Captain Shreyas Iyer and Colin Ingram while Rishabh Pant will again be expected to take the team aground with some smart batting in the middle overs and full throttle power display at the death.

Delhi’s bowling boasts some brilliant fast bowlers that can take the game away from any opposition. Kagiso Rabada has been exceptional while Ishant Sharma has bowled his heart out. But, on Kotla’s pitch, it will be the spinners (Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichchan) who will be their main weapon to bring the RCB down.

 

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