Fri, 20 Sep 2019

Royals need to brace for Capitals' spin choke

ESPNCricInfo
21 Apr 2019, 22:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ETBig Picture

The belligerence of Riyan Parag, a 17-year old, who outscored Steven Smith during the course of their match-winning partnership on Saturday, embodies the Rajasthan Royals' mantra of playing freely without the fear of consequences for the remainder of IPL 2019.

In a way, knowing a slip-up and you may near the exit gates is as clear as a message can get, and no one better than Smith, the new captain, understands this. He is managing an elbow injury, has taken over the captaincy mantle at a difficult time, but is clear his sights are only on the next week and a bit. A knock such as his - an unbeaten half-century - has allayed questions over his personal form and doubts over whether he walks into the XI, for the moment. And Royals simply have to live in the moment now.

Form Guide

Rajasthan Royals: Beat Mumbai by five wickets, lost to Kings XI by 12 runs, beat Mumbai by four wickets

Delhi Capitals: Beat Kings XI by five wickets, beat Mumbai by 40 runs, beat Sunrisers by 39 runs

Having ticked a box against Mumbai Indians for a third win, Royals need to win at least four more games, or all five if mathematics plays a part. In their minds, they have to now approach this like a five-match series with the first one at home. It cannot be a bad place to start.

Delhi Capitals have every right to feel like a restless kid who feels stifled at home and wants to get out. They have not enjoyed home comforts like some of the other sides. The surfaces they have played on there have been ordinary, at best. If they expected a trip down the road to Jaipur will rejuvenate them, they will be mistaken.

The surfaces at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium too have been sluggish, much different to the zip and bounce fast bowlers have enjoyed here previously. Still, it hasn't been as bad as the ones at Feroz Shah Kotla. The confidence of having chased down a score quite comfortably on Saturday evening, and the comfort that they've been in the best possible position for the playoffs in a long time, should give them the extra kick.

In the news

Jos Buttler was to be available until their next game in Kolkata on April 25, but has flown home a week early to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. His void was filled by Sanju Samson, allowing Steven Smith to take his favourite No. 3 position. That's unlikely to change come Monday. The question they may have is, do they persist with Ashton Turner, who has made two first-ball ducks in two games playing as a specialist batsman, or bring in Liam Livingstone?

Shikhar Dhawan's rediscovery has eased the burden on Delhi's middle order. Will this give them the wings to chase down any total? Will they give Guyana's Andre Russell - Sherfane Rutherford - another go? Numbers indicate they should, as Royals' poor record against left-handers - they concede at 9.84 per over.

Previous meeting

This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season.

Likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Sanju Samson, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Ashton Turner/Liam Livingstone, 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni

Delhi Capitals: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 Colin Ingram, 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sandeep Lamichhane

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