A back-in-form Virat Kohli’s tactical acumen will be put to test against Shreyas Iyer’s unassuming but dynamic brand of captaincy when the two most impressive teams of the ongoing IPL — Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals — face each other here on Monday.
Both DC and RCB have looked solid so far and are placed atop the standings with three wins out of four games each.
While Iyer has shown great form in his team’s four matches, Kohli finally got his act together in RCB’s last game against Rajasthan Royals, striking a fluent half-century.
On Saturday, Iyer (88 not out off 38 balls) again showed his class after Prithvi Shaw’s (66) opening act as Delhi beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 runs.
Kohli too finally got his touch back after three ordinary outings with an unbeaten 72 off 53 balls to guide RCB to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals.
And come Monday, the two skippers would look to lead from the front and outwit each other in what promises to be a thrilling contest.
While Shaw has so far looked quite in control at the top of the order for DC, Shikhar Dhawan’s form would be a cause of concern for Iyer.
But on the brighter side, Delhi seem to have finally got Rishabh Pant back in form as he dusted off his rustiness with a quick-fire 17-ball 38 against KKR.
To add to it, there is Marcus Stonis and Shimron Hetmyer waiting in the wings.
On the bowling front, Kagiso Rabada is the go-to man for DC even though he leaked runs against KKR the other day.
South African pacer Anrich Nortje has been brilliant for DC in the opening and slog overs and bowled a brilliant penultimate over against KKR on Saturday.
RCB, on the other hand, have been served well by the young Devdutt Padikkal at the top. The left-hander, considered the next big thing in Indian cricket, is fourth in the run-scorers’ tally with 174 from four games, including three fifties.
And if Aaron Finch too gets going, it would be difficult for any side to stop the marauding Bangalore openers.
But Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa is yet to adjust to the conditions.
RCB would also be hoping for Chris Morris to recover quickly after the South African all-rounder picked up a side strain before the start of the tournament.
We can outskill RCB, says confident DC pacer Anrich Nortje
Unfazed by the threat posed by the big guns of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals’ pacer Anrich Nortje said his team is capable of outperforming their opponents on Monday.
Nortje said it is all about sticking to basics and executing their plans as the Capitals, who defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 runs on Saturday night, will face RCB in an IPL game here.
DC had won only eight out of their 23 meetings against RCB, which boosts of a formidable batting line-up in the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and young Devdutt Padikkal in its ranks.
“It’s going to be a good challenge. They have got a pretty good line-up, and have some big names. But, I think we have got a good team as well and the guys have been training really well,” Nortje said in a release issued by DC on Sunday.
“If we just execute our skills, perform the way we have been, I think it’s going to be a very good game, and I’m sure we can outskill them.”
Defending 228, Nortje bowled a match-defining penultimate over after Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi had brought KKR back into the game with a flurry of sixes.
The 26-year-old pacer finished with figures of 3 for 33 in the challenging conditions of Sharjah to help his team regain the top spot in the points table.
“I’m just happy we could win and get the team over the line. I think the boys really bowled well. Maybe in one or two overs they got all of us, but I think in general the plans were good and everyone executed them well, so well done to the boys,” said Nortje.
“I think I just try to keep it basic, and not overthink things. Once you think too much about the big or small ground, and how easy it is sometimes to hit sixes you get a bit carried away, so just stick to your skills – what you have been training, and that is what’s going to get you over the line.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Alex Carey (wk), Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav.