MUMBAI: Their winning streak halted by the defending champions, Royal Challengers Bangalore will hope Harshal Patel returns to the playing XI and contribute in bringing their campaign back on track when they face Delhi Capitals in an IPL match here on Saturday.
RCB were flying high with three successive wins before Chennai Super Kings outwitted them by 23 runs in their last outing.
It was absence of Harshal which hurt the team as skipper Faf du Plessis looked out of options to control the rampaging duo of Shivam Dube and Robin Uthappa, who took the bowlers to the cleaners as CSK posted a huge total on board.
Known for his variations and death bowling skills, Harshal is a vital cog in RCB's wheels and Du Plessis had admitted that the team missed his services after he left the bio-bubble on Sunday following the death of his cousin.
"You see the value of Harshal, and what he offers. He has the ability to stop the game. We missed that tonight, we had a similar tone to the bowling. We lacked the variety we needed in our attack. Hopefully, we can have him soon again," du Plessis had said after their loss to CSK.
The 31-year-old from Gujarat, who had taken 32 wickets in the 2021 edition, has emerged as one of the best T20 bowlers with his variations, which include off-cutters and slower ones, bowled with variable arm speed.
This season too, Harshal has snapped six wickets from four games at an economy of just 5.50 and remains the go-to-man for du Plessis whenever the going gets tough. Among others, pace duo of Mohammad Siraj and Akash Deep has been taken for runs, while Wanindu Hasaranga claimed two wickets but he bled 35 in three overs in the last match.
Spin duo of Glenn Maxwell and Shahbaz too was blown away and skipper Du Plessis will expect a better show from his bowlers on Saturday. In batting, Du Plessis and young left-hander Anuj Rawat have given the team good starts, while Dinesh Karthik has played the role of the finisher well.
Engineer-turned cricketer Shahbaz Ahmed too has impressed with his batting so far. Former skipper Virat Kohli has blown hot and cold with two 40 plus scores but lacked consistency. The Capitals, on the other hand, are heading into the match after a massive 44-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders.
With two back-to-back fifties, opener Prithvi Shaw has been in sensational form, while seasoned Australian opener David Warner has provided the team solidity at the top as he provided the fireworks to set DC's massive win over KKR.
The number three spot, however, remains a concern with none of the batter tried by the team able to grab the chance. Skipper Rishabh Pant too will expect more runs from his batting. Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has emerged as their top bowler with 10 wickets so far, while pacer Khaleel Ahmed too has taken seven scalps in three games.
South African Anrich Nortje, who looked rusty in his only outing, also remains an option, while Delhi also have plenty of bowling all-rounders such as Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur and Lalit Yadav to count on.
However, Rovman Powell has looked subdued so far and DC would expect more from him. With four out of five matches ending in a win for the team batting second, toss might also be a key factor at the Wankhade stadium.
Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (Captain), Ashwin Hebbar, David Warner, Mandeep Singh, Prithvi Shaw, Rovman Powell, Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakariya, Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav, Lungi Ngidi, Mustafizur Rahman, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Lalit Yadav, Mitchell Marsh, Pravin Dubey, Ripal Patel, Sarfaraz Khan, Vicky Ostwal, Yash Dhull, KS Bharat and Tim Seifert.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Faf du Plessis, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Josh Hazlewood, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Behrendorff, Suyash Prabhudesai, Chama Milind, Aneeshwar Gautam, Karn Sharma, David Willey, Rajat Patidar, Siddharth Kaul.
Match starts at 7:30 pm