Match Preview – RR vs DC, Indian Premier League 2024, 9th Match

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Match details

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Delhi Capitals (DC)
Jaipur, 1930 IST (1400 GMT)

Big picture – Royals look the stronger side

Sports pages, web pages, front pages – Rishabh Pant has been on them all over this past week, his comeback from a career-threatening accident analysed threadbare.

But for the first time in a week, Pant seemed happy to not be the centre of attention, enjoying being part of the team’s Holi celebrations and going through light training drills, after which he oversaw the nets sessions of some of Capitals’ young batters.

More exciting viewing was when Pant head-to-head in a range-hitting competition with Jake Fraser-McGurk. Batting in adjacent nets, the two repeatedly sent the ball to the far corners of the Rajasthan Cricket Association’s academy ground, forcing the organisers to cordon off a walking area where the balls went and landed.

The team’s focus seemed to be on Fraser-McGurk, Australia’s teenage sensation, and how he could match up to Pant. At the same time, there couldn’t have been a bigger sign of how far Pant has come since he was declared fit.

At the other end of the training area were the Royals, who haven’t enjoyed a lot of success at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium lately. Last year, Royals managed to win just one of their five home games at the venue, once considered a fortress for them. And therein lies an opportunity for Capitals.

But Capitals’ middle order couldn’t capitalise on the start they were given in Mullanpur against Punjab Kings, and will once again be under scrutiny. Against a gun Royals attack, they will have their task cut out for sure.

Royals have a solid batting core, but they need Jos Buttler to find his scoring touch quickly. He went through a wretched run last season, and started this one with a nine-ball 11 against Lucknow Super Giants in their opening game. That said, Riyan Parag, Royals’ new No. 4, seemed at home in the first game, as did Sanju Samson, who has had a history of starting well and then tailing away.

The explosive batting talent available on both sides should make for compelling viewing. But Royals, on the little evidence we have had so far, look the stronger of the two.

Team news and impact player strategy

Rajasthan Royals
From Royals’ point of view, they will hope Parag recovers quickly from a bout of the flu.

Royals have no reason to change the XI as such, but if Parag is ruled out out, they could turn to the highly rated Shubham Dubey, one of their auction buys, and slot him in as a finisher. This won’t alter their impact substitutions in any way, with Nandre Burger coming in during their bowling innings for one of the batters.

Probable XII: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Riyan Parag/Shubham Dubey, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Dhruv Jurel, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Sandeep Sharma, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Avesh Khan, 12 Nandre Burger

Delhi Capitals
Anrich Nortje has arrived in India, having missed Capitals’ opener to be with his family after the arrival of his first child. He has trained for two days straight and could come into the Capitals XI straightaway.

Ishant Sharma has been declared “available” for selection for Capitals after hobbling off during their opening game after twisting his ankle while fielding.

Capitals are known to be keen to have David Warner and Mitchell Marsh continue opening the batting. This automatically rules out Prithvi Shaw. But because Nortje is back, and could be the impact player when they bowl, one of Tristan Stubbs and Shai Hope will have to make way.

This leaves their middle order slightly undercooked again, with Ricky Bhui and Abishek Porel likely to play, with one of them being subbed out after the batting innings.

Probable XII: 1 David Warner, 2 Mitchell Marsh, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt, wk), 5 Ricky Bhui, 6 Abishek Porel, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Sumit Kumar, 10 Mukesh Kumar, 11 Khaleel Ahmed, 12 Anrich Nortje

Pitch and conditions

The surface for Thursday’s game is one of the three that we’ll see through the season in Jaipur, and is similar in character – two-paced and slightly dry – to the one Royals played their opening game on. Temperatures have touched 38° Celsius, and the dryness in the air could aid spin.

Stats that matter

  • Since 2023, Capitals have had only 14 half-century partnerships, the least among all the teams
  • Trent Boult’s 22 powerplay wickets since 2022 are the second-highest in this phase, behind Mohammed Shami’s 28
  • Royals’ lost a wicket every 17.9 balls between overs seven and 15 last year, the lowest among all teams. And started this season, against Super Giants, with 87 for 1 in this phase.
  • Samson is one of only four batters since 2020 (with a 1000-run cut-off) to have a strike rate of over 140 and an average of over 25 against both pace and spin in the IPL. The others in this list include Buttler, Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran.

Quotes

“Warner and Marsh opened for Australia at the top and have done well together, so we decided to open with them.”
Capitals mentor Sourav Ganguly hints that Shaw will have to wait

“He’s seen the huge jumps that [Yashasvi] Jaiswal and [Dhruv] Jurel have made, and he’s got the hunger [back] and an example to follow into the national team.”
Royals director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara is impressed with what he has seen of Parag

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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