NEW DELHI: Saturday's IPL match at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium will see Delhi Capitals, who have already qualified for the knockout stage, taking on Rajasthan Royals who have a slim mathematical chance of making it. Despite their vastly different fortunes, there are a couple of similarities. The main resemblance being that both teams will be without their best players. While Delhi will be without Purple Cap holder Kagiso Rabada, Rajasthan will miss the services of skipper Steve Smith.
A back niggle has ended Rabada’s IPL commitments with Cricket South Africa (CSA) choosing to recall the pacer as a precautionary measure ahead of the World Cup. The speedster has been instrumental in Delhi’s run to the playoffs, scalping 25 in 12 games. Apart from taking wickets, his death bowling has been another vital cog for Delhi. Something that coach Ricky Ponting also alluded to.
“The decision was not taken by us. It was a decision made by Cricket South Africa so we respect that. Kagiso complained of a stiff back after our last match in Delhi against Royal Challengers Bangalore, so CSA have taken a precautionary measure for the World Cup. It’s a big loss. Rabada has held the ship up a lot with his death bowling. So now, we have to find out the guys who can step in,” Ponting said on Friday.
Smith’s departure also leaves a huge void for the visitors. The 29-year-old accumulated 319 runs in 12 games with three fifties. His impact as captain was another positive after eight matches under Ajinkya Rahane. Since the change, Rajasthan won three out of five matches (one no result) to be in contention. “It’s definitely a great loss. He has been great till the time he was here. First Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes (left) and now Smith. Now we will have to try and cope,” Rajasthan wicketkeeper Sanju Samson said.
The hosts are third on the table, with 16 points from 13 matches, behind Mumbai Indians (16) on net run rate and table-toppers Chennai Super Kings (18). Their 80-run thrashing against Chennai put a dent in their NRR and they will be hoping for a big win so that they can make the top two and get two bites at making the final. Rajasthan, on the other hand, are sixth with 11 points from 13 games.
They need to win against Delhi and hope for favourable results from the remaining games to secure a playoff berth.Ponting added that both teams will treat the encounter as must-win. “We need to win this game to qualify in the top-2. Rajasthan will come into the match knowing that they have nothing to lose.”
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Rahane back as skipper
Rajasthan Royals have again entrusted Ajinkya Rahane with the captaincy after the departure of Steve Smith.