After an encouraging win over three-time Indian T20 League champions Chennai in their opening match, Delhi will be taking on Rajasthan in the seventh match of the tournament on Thursday, April 15, at the Wankhede Stadium.

Rajasthan might have lost their season-opener against Punjab, but their fans will be waiting with bated breath to see Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag at the crease again. For Delhi, a rejuvenated Prithvi Shaw hogged the limelight with a quickfire 72 against MS Dhoni’s men.

While the biggest draw of the game will be the coming together of debuting Indian T20 League captains Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant, Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson will be sweating to find an alternative option for their star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will now miss the rest of the Indian T20 League season with a broken finger.

Rajasthan vs Delhi full squads

Rajasthan: Sanju Samson (captain/wicket-keeper), Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Anuj Rawat, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh

Delhi: Rishabh Pant (captain and wicket-keeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod (wicket-keeper), Lukman Meriwala, M Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings

Rajasthan vs Delhi playing XI predictions

Despite the unfortunate and untimely injury of Ben Stokes, Rajasthan have some interesting options to replace the English star. Stokes’ batting position for Rajasthan (as an opener) has been a source of debate for quite some time now with many suggesting Jos Buttler take that role.

Stokes’ injury provides Rajasthan with an opportunity to experiment. David Miller can come down in the middle order to provide late fireworks.

Samson deployed as many as eight bowlers against a batting-heavy Punjab side who put up a target of 222. Delhi are a different team altogether and Rajasthan are expected to continue with the same bowling combination of three pacers and two spinners with Rahul Tewatia getting more overs.

While Delhi aren’t expected to experiment with a winning XI from the last game, the management just cannot keep superstar bowler Kagiso Rabada on the bench when he is available. Tom Curran conceded 40 runs in four overs against and the English bowler is expected to be benched this match.

Rajasthan predicted XI: Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Manan Vohra, Sanju Samson (captain), David Miller, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Shreyas Gopal, Chetan Sakariya, Mustafizur Rahman

Delhi predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (captain and wicketkeeper), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Woakes, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan

Rajasthan vs Delhi head-to-head in Indian T20 League

Interestingly, Rajasthan and Delhi have been very evenly matched in their encounters so far. The two teams have clashed 22 times in the Indian T20 League so far, with each winning 11 times.

The head-to-head remains relatively even at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, with Rajasthan winning four of their nine matches at the venue and Delhi winning four of their 10 matches at the venue.

Rajasthan vs Delhi: Match result prediction

It is evident from the head-to-head record that neither Delhi nor Rajasthan stand as clear favourites to win Thursday’s game. However, in terms of team combination, momentum, and most importantly, the think tank, Delhi edges Rajasthan in the fixture.

Having a shrewd and veteran tactician like Ricky Ponting at the helm calling the shots and picking the team combination, Rishabh Pant will have little to worry about apart from his batting against any opponents whatsoever. Rajasthan’s Kumar Sangakkara might have been a great player himself, but his inexperience to manage teams in the Indian T20 League will remain a disadvantage at this stage for the team.

Moreover, Ben Stokes’ exit would be a blow that Rajasthan could take some time to recover from.

Best performers in Rajasthan vs Delhi

Top tip: Best batsmen

Even if Ben Stokes hadn't been injured ahead of the Delhi clash, there was a high chance Rajasthan kept South African pinch hitter David Miller in the squad. The middle-order batsman has garnered 322 runs against Delhi in 14 matches at a strike rate of 115.82.

Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan will be the biggest threat for Rajasthan on Thursday. The southpaw has amassed a massive 547 runs against them in 19 matches with six half-centuries against Rajasthan alone.

Top tip: Best bowlers

Left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat has been Rajasthan's best bet with the ball against Delhi so far, as he accumulated 16 wickets in 8 matches. However, given the team combination, Shreyas Gopal could be handy for Sanju Samson as the spinner has previously taken five wickets against Delhi.

Delhi's old man Amit Mishra could be the star of the show on Thursday, given his exceptional record against Rajasthan. The spinner has scalped 30 wickets against Rajasthan at a strike rate of 14.

Top tip: All-rounders and wicket-keepers

While neither of the teams – Rajasthan or Delhi – have seen any exceptional performances from their all-rounders so far, Rajasthan’s Chris Morris is expected to get better with every game. The highest-priced player of the Indian T20 League 2021 took two wickets against Punjab.

For Delhi, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis remains their best hope. Though the Australian went wicketless against Chennai in the last match, his three boundaries coming down the order helped Delhi seal off the victory.

Rishabh Pant trumps Jos Buttler behind the stumps any day, especially in Indian conditions. He is currently the Indian cricket team’s first-choice wicket-keeper and has been acquainted with Rabada and Nortje’s pace in the Indian T20 League as well.

Buttler, on the other hand, wasn’t given the wicket-keeping duties in the first match with Sanju Samson taking the onus upon himself, a move that has been questioned by Michael Vaughan.

Feature Image Courtesy: AFP/ Manjunath Kiran