Around two to three weeks ago, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals were comfortably sitting in the top three along with Mumbai Indians. Both teams were in form and looked to seal their playoff berth alongside MI. However, after a string of loses and teams in the bottom half of the table suddenly flourishing, Bangalore and Delhi are now fighting to stay in contention for the playoff.
Both teams are tied with 14 points. With Kolkata Knight Riders eliminating Rajasthan Royals by 60 runs thus improving their net run rate yesterday, a huge loss today for either RCB or DC means one team will go below KKR in NRR and will have to depend on the result of the last league game between SRH and MI. Three spots and four teams are battling it out.
Like SRH, Bangalore and Delhi have their destiny in their own hands. A win today means, one team will finish second and will take on Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier. It is important to finish in the top two because of how the playoff format works. If one of the top two teams loses in the first qualifier, they will get another shot to reach the finals as they will take on the winner of the eliminator between teams on third and fourth. It gives the teams in the top two an extra cushion.
Delhi Capitals were trounced in their last match. Mumbai Indians dominated Delhi by nine wickets in a low scoring game. This was DC’s fourth loss on the trot. The team is definitely feeling the pressure. They are not having a settled top order. Ajinkya Rahane and Prithvi Shaw have struggled as openers. Shikhar Dhawan has scored two consecutive tons also recorded two consecutive ducks. DC seems to be reading the conditions wrong and not able to get the right playing XI. They will need to fix this today as they have only one chance to redeem or else they will have to depend on other results.
Royal Challengers Bangalore was outfoxed by Sunrisers Hyderabad. This was similar to the MI-DC game played that very afternoon. It was a low scoring game. RCB did not read the conditions well and ended up losing the match. RCB missed a trick by playing three speedsters on a slow track. SRH batsmen took advantage of this and chased down 120 in 14.1 over denting RCB’s NRR in the process. RCB will want to right their wrong and win tonight. They have been over-reliant on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to score a bulk of runs in the middle and death overs. Yuzvendra Chahal will be key with the bowling.
Since the match is being played in Abu Dhabi, RCB has the advantage as they have won two of their three matches here whereas Delhi has lost all three matches played here. Toss will be crucial as well
However, things could still look good for both teams if Sunrisers Hyderabad loses their last league match against defending champions Mumbai Indians tomorrow. If SRH does indeed lose, then RCB, DC and KKR will join MI in this year’s playoffs. However, if SRH doesn’t lose, then SRH will qualify due to their strong NRR along with MI, winner of DC-RCB game and the last spot will depend on NRR.