The last match saw two of the victors from the first round of matches, and now two of the unfortunate teams are set to go up against each other. Rajasthan were decimated by SRH, while Delhi were edged out by a resolute Punjab. Of the two teams, the Royals looked exceptionally ordinary but there is much time to improve.
Delhi have a much better balance to their squad than Rajasthan, especially with their bowling. Rajasthan will need to come up with a very specific gameplan to defeat Gambhir and his eleven. Can they bounce back from the thumping they received?
Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, Rishabh Pant, Glenn Maxwell, Gautam Gambhir (c), Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Mohammed Shami, Amit Mishra, Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Daniel Christian, Jayant Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Naman Ojha, Sayan Ghosh, Liam Plunkett.
Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathi, D Arcy Short, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Zahir Khan, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Ben Laughlin, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Heinrich Klaasen.
Where the teams stand
Delhi displayed some shades of brilliance in the last match. Gambhir in particular led from the front with his innings of 55, while Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris struck the ball cleanly. Unfortunately, Delhi have the middle order of a Ranji Trophy side, comprising Iyer, Shankar, and Pant. While Iyer and Pant are talented cricketers, this is not a middle order appropriate for an IPL team. With Tewatia the one to follow these three, it leaves Morris and Christian with far too much to do lower down the order in case of a top order failure. Since Shankar, Pant, Morris, and Christian are all attacking batsmen, it leaves Delhi with no reliable batsmen in the entire lineup besides Iyer and Gambhir. This might pay off brilliantly on some days, and backfire horrendously on others. Gambhir needs more anchors in that middle order.
The only thing saving Delhi is their bowling attack. They had an off day the last time thanks to KL Rahul’s blitzkrieg, but take nothing away from these bowlers. Shami, Morris, Boult, and Mishra are still a world-class attack. When these bowlers failed, Tewatia and Christian maintained healthy economies of 6 each. If all of them can collectively tightened the screws, things could become tricky for the Royals. They also have Liam Plunkett on the bench if his services are required. Despite the quality in their ranks, a lot depends on how Gambhir utilizes his resources to get the most out of his players. If he wins the toss and gets a chance to bowl first, it’s game on for DD.
Fantasy Picks: Gambhir is the first name that comes to mind. He has the most fifties of any player in the IPL, and is one of the all time leading run scorers. Chris Morris is another player that could be worth a lot of points, especially given his all-round proficiency.
Rajasthan have not had the best start to their campaign after the thumping they received from SRH. They could only manage 129 against a superb bowling attack, and then failed to test more than three of the oppositions batsmen. They won’t have bad days like those very often, and DD must be aware of that. The Royals are heavily dependent on a handful of players like Stokes, Rahane, Unadkat, and maybe Samson. Rajasthan is famous for giving Indian cricket some of their best young prospects over the years, and they need to start cultivating the raw talent at their disposal. Their batting has no big names besides the two previously mentioned. If they need to play at least 14 matches with more or less this lineup, the Royals will need another special talent this year.
This does not apply just to their batting, considering how short their bowling looks on quality. If Jaydev Unadkat is supposed to be the best bowler in your lineup, then you're missing something crucial. The multi-million dollar baby was expensive against SRH, conceding at over 9 an over. Ben Stokes is perhaps the most reliable name in the attack, and he is not a premier bowler by any means. Rajasthan’s lack of backups here might turn out to be a serious problem for them as the tournament progresses. With Gowtham, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Laughlin forming the rest of this very ordinary attack, these players are going to have to play out of their skins to compete against Delhi.
Fantasy Picks: Stokes is the only player one can expect something from in this lineup. He took his time to bloom last year though, flourishing mainly in the latter half of the season. Regardless, he is one of the best all-rounders in the world. Samson, though great in the last match, is still a contentious pick along with Rahane, who can be a delight to watch but not just yet.
Delhi win. The contrast in the bowling alone makes them favorites, despite the batting being a slight concern.
Who will bounce back and grab an important victory, Delhi or Rajasthan? Let us know in the comments and poll below.