Rajasthan Royals (RR) will take on Delhi Capitals (DC) in match number seven of IPL 2021 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday. DC got their IPL 2021 campaign off to a flying start, with a commanding seven-wicket triumph over an unsettled Chennai Super Kings (CSK) outfit. As for Rajasthan, they came close to getting the better of Punjab Kings (PBKS). In the end, though, they came second best due to an inconsistent show with both bat and ball. Both teams have received some bad news going into tomorrow’s clash. While DC pacer Anrich Nortje has tested Covid-19 positive, RR all-rounder Ben Stokes has been ruled out of the tournament. As the teams get ready for the showdown, here are three-player battles to watch out for.
1. Prithvi Shaw vs Chetan Sakariya
This will be the battle of the youngsters in the RR vs DC clash. Prithvi Shaw came into the tournament on the back of record-breaking performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. And, he looked in complete command as he dominated the CSK attack. There were some breathtaking strokes to reiterate the talent that the young batsman possesses. When DC face RR, Shaw will be keen to carry on the good work. Having faced struggles at the international level, Shaw would have learnt that when you are in form, you have to make it count.
At the top of the innings, Shaw will come across a young dynamo in Chetan Sakariya, who stood out among all RR bowlers against PBKS. Even as Deepak Hooda and KL Rahul went on an onslaught, the young left-arm seamer kept his wits and finished with impressive debut figures of 3 for 31. He bowled an excellent last over for RR, not allowing the batsmen to go after him. There is not much to separate Shaw and Sakariya in terms of age. But when it comes to experience, the batsman will definitely have the edge. That said, sometimes the novelty factor can also be an advantage.
2. Sanju Samson vs Ravichandran Ashwin
New RR captain Sanju Samson played an exceptional innings against Punjab Kings. His spectacular hundred did not deserve to come in a losing cause. It did, and that’s how the game goes. Sanju’s hitting range was on display against Punjab as he carted bowlers to all parts of the ground. Despite the loss, the RR captain can be buoyed by his own individual performance in the previous game. Also, with Stokes having been ruled out, he should look to take that extra responsibility, just like he did in the last match.
Ravichandran Ashwin made news for bowling a delivery like Kedar Jadhav in the previous game against CSK. He tried his other variations as well, but wasn’t effective for a change. He was carted for 47 runs in his four overs and got a wicket because Moeen Ali gifted him one with a premeditated reverse sweep. Ashwin would be the first one to admit that he wasn’t at his best against CSK. He will be up against it if he bowls to Samson. But the latter is known to provide opportunities. Can Ash prey on this weakness of his?
3. Rishabh Pant vs Shreyas Gopal
Rishabh Pant didn’t have much to do with the bat in his first game as DC captain for the franchise as Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw dominated proceedings. However, he could get a chance to bat longer against RR. The expectations will be sky-high from Pant now that he has turned into a match-winner across formats for India. One would expect the left-hander to continue being aggressive with the bat, be it spin or pace.
RR leggie Shreyas Gopal didn’t have a great match against Punjab as he was taken apart by Deepak Hooda. The big blows may have affected his rhythm to some extent. Over the years, Gopal has been proved to be an effective bowler for his franchise and has even got the better of legends like AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. Coming up against Pant will be a different kind of a challenge for Gopal. Will he be able to withstand the Pant-storm?