The 22nd match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the twenty-second game of IPL 2021 – DC vs RCB.
During 2011-18, RCB had lost just one match against Delhi in the IPL. Even in 2017, RCB’s worst IPL season, two out of their three victories came against DC. Such was the domination of the Red Army against Delhi. However, the fortunes have changed since 2019, as Delhi Capitals have won in all of their four meetings.
Victories which were like free tokens, for just participating in the competition, have become hard to come by for the Challengers, thanks to the recent rise of Delhi.
DC vs RCB: The story of DC openers
Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan have formed the best opening duo of the tournament so far. Shaw has started this season well and has provided good support to Dhawan. As a pair, they have averaged exactly 58 with a strike rate of 146.5. In five matches so far, they have got three 50+ stands – all in the powerplay itself!
Shaw and Dhawan have scored 53.26 % of the total runs scored by DC batsmen. While the openers have stepped up, the other batsmen haven’t. They lag behind Shaw and Dhawan in every metric.
The DC have ensured quick & stable starts and this is where RCB get a good opportunity to break the game. They have good powerplay bowlers to do so. Once, DC are on the backfoot, DC will probably consume some overs in recovery, compromising on the scoring rate.
Apart from his ability to move the new ball and keep the line and length tight, which is already talked about enough now, Mohammed Siraj can bowl short balls and bouncers against DC openers.
Bowling 135 short balls and bouncers since 2020, Siraj has scalped nine wickets at 19.56 runs apiece. 24.44% of his deliveries also induce a false shot.
Shaw has clear issues against short balls and bouncers. Since 2020, he has faced 59 such balls and averages about 10 and has a high false shot percentage of 30.51%. Kyle Jamieson can also do the trick against the Indian youngster.
For Dhawan, Siraj should bowl from the over the wicket and in the leg-stump line. A good field setting with a fielder at deep fine leg should help. It will also reduce Dhawan’s scoring shots and areas – cuts and drives in the off-side region.
Washington Sundar is also a good match-up for Dhawan. Since IPL 2020, the off-spinner has an economy of 5.35 and a false shot percentage of 27.27% against LHBs in the powerplay. His overall economy against southpaws in this timeframe is also under six.
Since 2019 – a duration which includes his best IPL years – Dhawan averages 28.5 with a strike rate of 117 against off-spinners. His dot-ball percentage of 30.14% and a balls-per-boundary ratio of 9.125 also don’t paint a good picture.
Washington hasn’t bowled even a single ball in this IPL when the striker, as well as the non-striker, is a right-handed batsman. So, RCB don’t have to worry about that. Thus, Sundar can well maintain the pressure and even scalp Dhawan’s wicket.
DC vs RCB: The big fish Rishabh Pant and the rest
Rishabh Pant is the biggest threat for RCB. Even if the openers get out cheaply, Pant can build up the innings nicely and keep the tempo up as well.
RCB need to pick up his wicket at a low score. Washington can be miser against Pant, but unlikely to get him out. So, he might be used to maintain pressure from one end.
Chahal, who doesn’t bowl enough googlies, must stress on bowling more googlies against Rishabh. Since 2020, he has got out thrice against googlies in 46 balls and has stuck at just around 100 SR.
Siraj and Saini (if he plays), from over the wicket, can target the southpaw with quick short-bowling. Siraj has increased his pace recently, however, Saini recent bowling might not inspire enough confidence. Pant isn’t a bad player of short bowling but he isn’t perfect either, he is a bit late.
The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar can contain and get out Steve Smith. Smith isn’t a big danger for RCB and they have the personnel to manage him.
Shimron Hetmyer is being misused by DC and RCB won’t mind it. Sundar might be able to contain him, even though he is a good player of spin. Siraj and Saini (if he plays) can test him with well-directed short bowling and hard-lengths. Also, Harshal’s off-cutters might not be a bad idea if the deck is tacky.
In case Marcus Stoinis arrives early to the crease, he should be tested by Chahal straight away, especially googlies. And, the high-end pace can also trouble Stoinis.
Shahbaz Ahmed might replace Navdeep Saini and it’s understandable. More so, because he can bat and is a southpaw, something which RCB need against DC, particularly without Ashwin. However, DC also have four LHBs in their top-7, hence, his bowling might not be needed again.
So, based on the management’s instincts, they can back Saini for at least one more game. Kane Richardson has also flown back to Australia and they would want to keep maintaining that pace attack for sustainable success.