Aiming to make it to the final of the playoffs, Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), on Friday will face Delhi Daredevils (DD) in Match number 52 of the 2017 Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) slated to at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in the capital.

With 10 points from 12 matches, Delhi Daredevils are already down and out of the IPL race. Zaheer led Daredevils will, therefore, be playing for the pride in front of their home crowd tonight.

Contrary, Rising Pune Supergiant is tied at third spot with Kolkata Knight Riders — 16 points from 12 matches — and will be eager to bounce back to winning days after they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by 12 runs in their last IPL fixture.

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Delhi Daredevils come into the match tonight after beating Gujarat Lions in a successful run chase in Kanpur — won by 2 wickets while chasing 195 runs, courtesy Shreyas Iyer’s brilliant 96(57).

Batting coach Rahul Dravid must have been very pleased with the clinical run chase by the middle order of Daredevils despite losing openers Karun Nair and Sanju Samson cheaply at the start of the innings.

However, Dravid and Paddy Upton must be no stranger to that. Delhi Daredevils has also chased 200+ in this IPL tournament the and yet they find themselves languishing in the bottom half of the IPL points table.

The team has been marred with inconsistency and that is precisely why — the downfall.

The batting line-up for Delhi has the likes of young and experienced talent that has been able to perform only in individual capacity and not as a unit

 

 

The top four of DD — Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant — have together scored 1163 runs in this IPL so far. The numbers could have meant a different fate for Daredevils if their batsmen could have fired together.

Delhi has two games left — against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore —before they log out of this year’s IPL season. Captain Zaheer Khan will want to leave on a happy note for their fans as they play both the games in their own backyard at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground.

The fact that they chased 195 runs against Gujarat Lions two days ago should be a catalyst for Daredevils to lift their game and give the fans something to cheer before ceremonail early exit.

Dravid must have laid down the game plan to the batsmen — play freely and back your talent. Mostly, not every ball needs to go out of the park; therefore, controlled aggression.

The responsibility of the bowling attack lies with skipper Zaheer Khan who will be required to marshal his resources wisely against the batting stalwarts of RPS.

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With an eye to getting to the top two spots before the elimination begins Rising Pune Supergiant come to this game after a break of good four days.

The last time they came to the field was against the defending IPL champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and defended a meager total of 148 runs with scintillating performances by their bowlers — J Unadkat returned with the astounding figures of 5 wickets in 4 overs.

Head Coach Stephan Fleming must have taken on account of that game very closely. As much he will be pleased with his bowlers, the batting collapse is something he will want to get rid of as quickly as possible — the batting track of Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi should be an ideal track for RPS batsmen to back to the groove.

Starting from the opening slot, Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane will have to ensure a good start for the team with the word ‘play’.

 

 

While Tripathi — 353 runs in 10 matches — has already caught everyone’s attention with his free flowing striking of the ball, Ajinkya Rahane — 248 runs in 12 matches — on the other hand, is yet to be consistent in the series. The duo needs to stick around for longer haul and not give away their wicket while trying to accelerate the inning without a game plan.

Coming down the order Steven Smith, Manoj Tiwary and MS Dhoni have also been marred with the similar issue.

With the openers losing the wicket early in the game or during the transitional phase in the game, Smith, and Tiwary seems to be getting buckled under pressure.

It’s high time captain Smith puts a value to his wicket if Pune Supergiant wants to have a go at the coveted IPL trophy.

MS Dhoni has looked a little vulnerable against the leg spinners in the tournament. Zaheer will be aware of the fact and might start with Amit Mishra as soon as Dhoni comes to the crease.

Dhoni has scored 235 runs in 12 matches so far which is not that bad depending on the conditions he has to come and bat during this season. The right-handed talisman knows he is much better than those figures and the time is ripe for Dhoni to push an extra mile tonight.

Pune will be playing tonight without the services of their leading wicket taker bowler Imran Tahir — 18 wickets in 12 matches. The 37-year old leg-spinner along with Faf du Plessis has already left to join South Africa cricket team for national duty.

Australian leggie Adam Zampa is most likely to get a game in tonight’s game in Tahir’s absence.

Another inevitable jolt for Pune Supergiant will be Ben Stokes, who is also slated to leave for England and will not be available for the rest of the IPL 2017 season.

The English all-rounder Stokes has been very instrumental with both bat and ball — 10 wickets, scored 283 runs in 10- matches — in the recent games for RPS. His loss will be a big shoe to fill, literally — Stokes is also the most expensive international player of all time in IPL after being bought for a whopping price of RS 14.5 crore in the Auctions.

RPS bowlers are having a good run so far in the tournament.

Jaidev Unadkat — 17 wickets in 8 matches — will have to lead the bowling attack along with Shardul Thakur, Dan Christian and Washington Sundar who all have been fairly disciplined as well.

Pune Supergiant captain Steve Smith will have to use his troops wisely against the young batting side of Delhi who will resist at nothing from playing the attacking cricket against the bowlers of all sorts. It’s high time for Smith and Coach Fleming to dawn the thinking hat.

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Rising Super Giant has had a reversal of fortunes from their last IPL edition debacle where they left bottom placed as the season ended.

RPS will come to Feroz Shah Kotla Ground with four back-to-back wins and an ambition for the playoffs. There is no reason why they will not want to play their best tonight.

Delhi Daredevils has suffered the backlash due to their inconsistent run so far. A win tonight will make them the spoilsport for Pune, but heroes back home for Delhi supporters.

For a short closure, it will be ‘no holds barred’ tonight in the capital.

First Published | 12 May 2017 5:13 PM
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