Delhi will be eager to put their loss against Mumbai in their last match in the Indian T20 League behind them when they face Rajasthan in Dubai on Wednesday. The team from the national capital currently find themselves second in the points table and can go to the top of the standings with a win over the Season 1 champions.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, will be looking to build on their momentum after a win Hyderabad in their last match. They have managed to accumulate six points from seven matches, having won three of their games this season.
A look at the head-to-head between the two teams suggests that not much separates the two sides. They have met 21 times with Delhi coming out on top in 10 games and Rajasthan emerging triumphant on 11 occasions. Here’s a closer look at some of the key players and battles that could determine who comes away with the win on Wednesday.
Ashwin a threat to Rajasthan’s batsmen
Ravichandran Ashwin has had a decent season so far, having taken six wickets from five matches at an average of 18.50, an economy of 7.50 and a strike rate of 15.00. He has often got the better of Rajasthan’s batsmen in the past and will hope for more of the same in Dubai. Ashwin’s dismissed Robin Uthappa six times – the most by a bowler in the Indian T20 League.
Jos Buttler is another batsman that Ashwin has enjoyed bowling to. Even though he’s dismissed him just once, Buttler has, by and large, struggled to score off Ashwin and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in their latest duel. The fact that Rajasthan have lost 15 wickets to spin this season tells its own story and they have also played 109 dot balls against spinners this season – the most by any team. Ashwin’s also fourth in the all-time leaderboard for most wickets against Rajasthan, having accounted for 15 scalps.
Shreyas Iyer’s struggles against Jaydev Unadkat
Delhi’s captain Shreyas Iyer has been in scintillating form and it’s no surprise that he’s the team’s leading scorer with 245 runs. He’s got his runs at an impressive average of 40.83 and scored at a strike rate of 138.41. Iyer’s hit 20 fours and nine sixes so far and his unbeaten 38-ball 88 in the win over Kolkata is the highest score by a Delhi player this season.
His contribution has been and will be key against Rajasthan but one Rajasthan bowler who could put the brakes on and send him back to the dugout quickly is Jaydev Unadkat. The left-arm Indian bowler has 14 wickets at an average of 14.86 against Delhi, his best against any current Indian T20 League opponent. He’s enjoyed plenty of success against Iyer in the past and will be hoping for more of the same. Unadkat has bowled nine balls over two innings to Iyer in the Indian T20 League and dismissed him twice in that time. Iyer’s strike rate of 66.66 when facing Unadkat is also his lowest against Rajasthan’s bowlers.
Players to watch:
Delhi – Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan, for the most part, has struggled to come to terms with conditions in the UAE. However, his unbeaten 69 in Delhi’s last match will fill him with confidence heading into the upcoming clash. On his day, Dhawan is capable of taking the world’s best bowling attacks to the cleaners and with runs under his belt, don’t be surprised if the left-handed opener goes hell for leather against Rajasthan from ball one.
Rajasthan – Rahul Tewatia
Rahul Tewatia has emerged as Rajasthan’s unsung hero this season. He’s played two match-winning knocks in the tournament already and his unbeaten 45 at a strike rate of 160.71 against Hyderabad helped end his team’s four-match unbeaten run. Only Sanju Samson has scored more than Tewatia’s 189 runs and his average of 37.80 is the highest by anyone from Rajasthan with more than four innings this season.
Stats to watch out for:
2: Wickets Kagiso Rabada needs to reach 50 Indian T20 League wickets. He will become the first overseas player to take 50 wickets for Delhi in the Indian T20 League and only their second bowler overall.
2: Maximums Steve Smith needs to reach a 100 sixes in T20I.
4: Boundaries Iyer needs to reach 300 fours in T20s.
23.33: Shreyas Iyer’s average vs Rajasthan, his lowest versus any current team in the Indian T20 League.
200: Steve Smith will play his 200th T20 match.
While Rajasthan will go into the clash with winning momentum in their sails, it’s difficult to see how they can overcome Delhi. Iyer’s men have been in top form for most of the season and if we were to overlook their loss against Mumbai – the Indian T20 League’s most successful team and frontrunners for this year’s tournament as well – it’s difficult to see how Rajasthan can get the better of a formidable Delhi side.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Xavier Galiana