New Delhi: After an encouraging start to the tournament where they had four wins out of six, Rajasthan Royals have lost their last two matches and slipped to fifth position. Their next challenge is likely to be their toughest - facing Delhi Daredevils in Delhi - as the mid-table scramble heats up.
Daredevils, meanwhile, stamped their authority with a thumping win over Mumbai Indians on Friday which has taken them a step ahead of the rest. It was the first time this season that Daredevils batted first and they made most of their muscle by posting 207. While Kevin Pietersen has had a Gayle-like effect on the team, Virender Sehwag has bullied the opposition with three consecutive half-centuries at a strike-rate of 182.35. Sehwag now has the orange cap in his sights. Daredevils' pacers - purple cap holder Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan - have played in all eight games. With Varun Aaron, who will be available soon, Andre Russell and Doug Bracewell on the bench, there is a case for rotation.
Royals have adequate strength in their batting to counter pace and spin. Rahane has been confident, while Owais Shah and Brad Hodge can attack faster bowlers with ease. In Brad Hogg, Royals have a canny spinner, who can entice Sehwag into a trap. But the small boundaries and a flat pitch in Delhi could turn this game into another bat-out.
Form guide (most recent first)
Delhi Daredevils: WWLWW
Rajasthan Royals: LLWWL
Players to watch
Mahela Jayawadene joined the party with an attractive 55 in the last game, leading the counter-attack in the face of some penetrative bowling by Lasith Malinga. Royals' bowling is slightly weaker, which could just be the invitation for Jayawardene to possibly match Sehwag.
Owais Shah has been the engine whenever acceleration is required for Royals. He has scored 278 runs at a strike-rate of 147.08 and has struck 15 sixes, one more than even Sehwag has managed.
Stats and trivia
Hodge with 4365 runs and Shah with 3835 are the second and third most prolific batsmen in Twenty20 cricket.
Pietersen may be the joint leader for sixes - 19 in all - in this IPL but Sehwag can reach a century of sixes in Twenty20 cricket in this match. He is on 99.
Shaun Tait is close to a landmark as well, but he hasn't been part of the playing XI for Royals this season. He is currently on 97 Twenty20 wickets.
Daredevils have played the Royals twice at the Kotla. They have won both games.
"It will be a healthy headache for the team management."
Mahela Jayawardene is looking forward to David Warner's arrival
"The bowling in death overs is still a big worry for us."
Rahul Dravid, after his side leaked 82 runs in the final five overs against Royal Challengers Bangalore