New Delhi: Battered and bruised, Royal Challengers Bangalore face Delhi Daredevils in a must-win Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Tuesday. A defeat could put the play-offs out of RCB’s reach while the Daredevils, with seven defeats, are all but out of the reckoning.
Two stunning back-to-back defeats at home, against Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, in the past 72 hours have put huge question marks against the Virat Kohli-led RCB whose repeated collective failures despite a plethora of talent have been baffling. (Bangalore vs Rajasthan scorecard)
Tuesday night presents a good opportunity for the RCB, who have just six points from nine matches, to drag themselves out of the mire as they face a deflated Daredevils whose captain Kevin Pietersen faces a similar crisis and predicament as Kohli in terms of pulling his team together to perform. (Read: Kohli furious with his bowlers)
The only solace for Kohli has been Yuvraj Singh’s return to form, or so it appeared Sunday when the southpaw notched up a blistering 83 runs and then took four wickets in a performance reminiscent of the 2011 World Cup in which he emerged "Player of the Tournament" with a series of quality all-round displays.
However, Yuvraj would need to carry on the good work if RCB hope to make the play-offs as thus far, it has only been AB de Villiers who has been performing. (Also read: Yuvraj still "hurting" from loss vs Rajasthan)
The two areas where RCB have faltered have been the form of opener Chris Gayle and Kohli, besides their bowling at the death that was cruelly exposed by both Punjab and Rajasthan.
Against Rajasthan, RCB shuffled the team a bit, a move that reflected frustration rather than a definite plan with Kohli replacing Parthiv Patel to open with Gayle and bringing in young Vijay Zol at No.3 -- both the moves flopped.
Daredevils attempted a similar shuffle against Sunrisers Hyderabad with out-of-form Pietersen opening in place of Murali Vijay who was dropped just as he looked to be regaining his touch.
Also, Delhi’s persistence in sending Laxmi Ratan Shukla ahead of in-form Jean-Paul Duminy and Kedar Jadhav defied logic considering that they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the previous game with the same middle-order line-up.
In fact, Delhi’s two victories so far have been in the UAE last month, against Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians as they have lost all their four matches since the tournament returned to India this month.
Daredevils, like the RCB, have had issues with inconsistent performances by their batsmen and also the bowlers among whom only Mohammed Shami has looked the part.
Thus, with just five matches in hand, both RCB and Daredevils have everything to play for on the morrow with the home team favoured to win if only because of the obvious advantages.