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Four games into the season, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils occupy the bottom two spots on the IPL table. It’s not an unfamiliar position for either team. Both are coming off heavy defeats, and both have pressing issues to sort out if they are to make anything of this season.

Bowling has been Daredevils’ failing so far: they have been the most expensive Powerplay attack this season, going at 10.75 an over in this phase, and the second-worst team in the middle overs (8.17). RCB have been just as bad: they have the worst economy rate of all IPL teams in the middle overs (8.47) and the death (12.5) this season.

On the batting front, Daredevils have done okay, barring a disappointing chase against Kolkata Knight Riders, and by and large have their best line-up sorted out. Not so in RCB’s case: how else would you explain Virat Kohli playing for net run rate as soon as his team was two down in a big chase against Mumbai Indians?

RCB will need to find a way to distribute Quinton de Kock, Kohli and AB de Villiers effectively through their batting order, determine how to make the best of a not-too-convincing second line of Indian batsmen, and figure out who among Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee and Moeen Ali will most effectively plug whichever hole remains after attending to the first two tasks.

Saturday’s match is the first of four home games in a row for RCB, which gives them an opportunity to play back-to-back games in similar conditions and get some consistency going. The weather, however, might not be their friend: it rained on the eve of the match, and more showers are expected on gameday.

In the news

  • Rain forced both teams to cancel their training sessions on the eve of the match.

  • An illness had kept Tim Southee from joining the RCB squad in India, but he has now arrived in Bengaluru.

The likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Mandeep Singh, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Corey Anderson/Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammed Siraj/Kulwant Khejroliya, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Jason Roy, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Shahbaz Nadeem, 11 Trent Boult

Strategy punt

Jason Roy’s vulnerability to legspin is well known (12 dismissals in 22 T20 innings since 2015, while scoring 123 off 112 balls) and it is quite likely RCB will look to exploit it by opening their bowling with Yuzvendra Chahal. With this in mind, Daredevils could perhaps promote Rishabh Pant to partner Roy at the top of the order. In T20s since 2015, Pant has scored 128 off 87 balls against legspin, while only being dismissed three times. This could force a scenario where RCB either hold back Chahal or risk him coming up against Pant.

Gautam Gambhir, while generally reckoned to be a good player of spin, hasn’t been nearly as effective as Pant against legspin in T20s since 2015: 180 off 157 balls, nine dismissals.

Stats that matter

  • Since the 2011 season, RCB have a 10-1 win-loss record against Daredevils

  • AB de Villiers loves to bat against Chris Morris. In five T20 meetings, he has scored 50 off 21 balls against his compatriot without being dismissed.

  • Glenn Maxwell, on the other hand, has poor T20 records against two key RCB bowlers: 26 off 25 balls with three dismissals against Yuzvendra Chahal, and 17 off 19 balls with three dismissals against Umesh Yadav.

  • Rishabh Pant (3.25 balls per boundary) and Maxwell (3.33) have been two of the four most frequent boundary-hitters in IPL 2018, among batsmen who have faced a minimum of 30 balls. The other two in the top four are Andre Russell (2.90) and Dwayne Bravo (3.27).

  • Umesh has been phenomenal against left-hand batsmen this season, conceding only 30 runs to them in 31 balls while taking three wickets.

Fantasy picks

In his last three innings, Quinton de Kock has scored 45, 26 and 19, showing glimpses of his best form without really being able to translate that into a big score. Perhaps Saturday is the day that happens, when he faces off against his former team.

Quotes

“In IPL, it never happens that you get a four-day break in between [matches]. We utilised that to gel together and have brain-storming meetings. Confidence is there because of how we beat Mumbai.”
Delhi Daredevils assistant coach Pravin Amre



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Ban vs WI 2020-21 – Kemar Roach draws up plans for West Indies’ pacers ahead of Bangladesh Tests

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Says tips to be gained from having watched Alzarri Joseph bowl in the ODIs

After a forgettable ODI series against Bangladesh, West Indies are gearing up for the two Tests, and Kemar Roach, one of the more experienced players in the squad, is clear about what his fellow pacemen will need to do to challenge the hosts. He says a tough time awaits the fast bowlers on the mostly benign Chattogram and Dhaka pitches, but the key will be consistency and working on getting the ball to reverse.

“It is hard work for fast bowlers out here,” Roach said. “The pitches aren’t conducive to speed or any seam movement. It is all about being consistent and putting the ball in the right areas. It is a pretty straight length [while] challenging the batsmen on the front foot. That’s mainly what your best chances are to succeed in Bangladesh.

“[Also] working on the ball as hard as we can, trying to get the ball to reverse as early as you can to trouble the Bangladesh middle order.”

The visitors, who were comprehensively beaten in all three ODIs, have a three-day practice match lined up at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chattogram over the weekend. The first Test starts at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, across town, next Wednesday.



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Recent Match Report – SA Women vs PAK Women 3rd ODI 2020/21

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Diana Baig finished as the leading wicket-taker in the series after picking up a career-best 4 for 30

South Africa Women 201 (Wolvaardt 58, Lee 49, Baig 4-30, Sandhu 2-31) beat Pakistan Women 169 (Javeria 33, Ismail 3-22, Khaka 3-29, Luus 3-35) by 32 runs

South Africa made a strong statement of intent ahead of next year’s 50-over World Cup by completing a clean sweep of Pakistan in Durban, with victory by 32 runs in the third ODI.

South Africa have now won six ODIs in succession following their 3-0 win in New Zealand last January, through which they automatically qualified for the global showpiece. While the World Cup is still a year away, preparation has had to be ramped up especially as fixtures are scant in the current pandemic. Neither South Africa nor Pakistan had played since last year’s Women’s T20 World Cup and though there were signs of rust on both sides, the ODIs were hard-fought and entertaining.

After two tense matches last week, in which Pakistan lost by 3 and 13 runs respectively, the visitors fell away in the finale. They were all but out of the contest at the halfway mark of their chase when they teetered at 73 for 5 while going after a target of 202. By then, South Africa’s stand-in captain Sunè Luus had become the 20th player to claim 100 ODI wickets, and the fourth among her countrywomen. Luus reached her milestone with the wicket of her opposite number Javeria Khan, whom she caught off her own bowling, after Javeria top-scored for her side with 33.

Pakistan needed bigger individual contributions but the usually aggressive pair of Aliya Riaz and Nida Dar were kept quiet and the early collapse was too much for them to recover from. Overall, their coach David Hemp assessed it as a series of missed chances. “We had opportunities to win all the games,” he said. “We need the top four to score runs.”

Contrastingly, South Africa had their best start with the bat after Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt put on 79 for the first wicket with Wolvaardt going on to score her 17th career half-century. Her dismissal, caught behind off the series-leading wicket-taker Diana Baig, sparked a major tumble for South Africa. They lost 7 for 48 and Baig finished with a career-best for 4 for 30. At 172 for 8, South Africa did not likely to set Pakistan 200.

Trisha Chetty‘s 34 off 43 balls took them to a decent score, though the middle-order has work to do on their contributions. Mignon du Preez, who scored just 47 runs in the series, will attract particular attention given her seniority and skill.

“There’s been a lot of starts but the kick on is not happening in terms of converting,” coach Hilton Moreeng said. “It’s an aspect we need to keep working on. We identified that the application is not there for everyone. We absorb a lot of pressure but when its time to translate that and put the opposition under pressure, we have two new batters at the crease, so we need to always have an in-batter.”

South Africa will be more pleased with the way their bowling stood up in big moments. Ayabonga Khaka‘s control and use of the slower ball saw her finish as South Africa’s joint-leading bowler across the three matches, with the same number of wickets as Shabnim Ismail, known for her pace. Luus and Marizanne Kapp, who sat out the final game, also made important inroads to ensure South Africa have a depth and options going forward.

Pakistan were also pleased with their efforts with the ball, particularly that of Baig, who led their attack. “She is a great learner, she wants to get better and she has got a great work ethic,” Hemp said.

Both coaches acknowledged that long layoffs for their teams contributed to some of the less-than-flattering moments that we saw throughout the series with dropped catches and missed run-outs a feature on both sides. For Hemp, Pakistan need to play against opposition ranked above them more often. “The more opportunities we have to play against sides who are ranked higher, the better. South Africa have nine players who are regularly playing in the best T20 competitions in the world,” he said. “We have to address our basics of the game. That’s where we are letting ourselves down.”

For Moreeng, South Africa need matches because it is the only way they can can give themselves a real chance at the World Cup. “The ladies need game time,” he said. “We could see from the first game that we had enough preparation but there is only so much you can do. There were a lot of basics we were not doing right. We feel we need to stay active – that is the only way we can prepare.”

The teams start a three-match T20I series at the same venue on Friday, where conditions are expected to be hot, slow and low as they have been so far.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Recent Match Report – H. Pradesh vs Tamil Nadu 2nd quarter final 2020/21

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With their campaign on the line, the sixth-wicket pair add 75 off just 32 balls to pull off a stunning win

Tamil Nadu 141 for 5 (Aparajith 52*, Shahrukh 40*, Arora 3-30) beat Himachal Pradesh 135 for 9 (Dhawan 35*, Rana 38, Yadav 3 for 14) by five wickets

Seventy runs needed off 45 balls. A top order that had dismantled attacks during the course of five successive wins in the group stage had collapsed in a heap. Tamil Nadu’s campaign, which had looked bright enough to go one better than their runners-up finish last year, was in doldrums.

Himachal Pradesh’s bowlers were making a target of 136 seem more like 186. They were boisterous, having just dismissed Dinesh Karthik. Tamil Nadu were five down, with the last recognised pair at the crease. The decision to promote Sonu Yadav as a pinch hitter had backfired too, his run-a-ball 16 putting immense pressure on the lower order.

Enter Shahrukh Khan, who joined Baba Aparajith, who until then had scratched his way to 23 off 33 balls. With the asking rate mounting and Himachal scenting victory, they held firm and then turned the game on its head, adding 75 off just 32 balls as Tamil Nadu cantered home with 13 balls to spare.

The turning point of sorts was the third ball of the 14th over, bowled by the left-arm spinner Ayush Jamwal. Aparajith swatted it across the line, and the long-on fielder parried the ball over the ropes. With a reprieve behind him, Aparajith unleashed his strokes without fear. This rubbed off on the muscular Shahrukh too, his contribution an unbeaten 19-ball 40 laden with five fours and two sixes.

Aparajith remained unbeaten on 52 off 45, having overcome pockets of frustration in the middle overs. To his credit, he carried on, trusted his game, and saw the game through. Prior to this game, Aparajith had just batted once in the tournament. But when the pressure was on, he dug deep to see his side through.

Having watched the match-winning partnership nervously, Karthik, N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishanth, who had done bulk of Tamil Nadu’s run-scoring in the league phase, exulted, roaring and punching the air, relieved at having a shot at making another final.

Earlier in the evening, Karthik had opted to field presumably to give his bowlers a relatively dry ball to play with. They all responded superbly to restrict Himachal to 135 for 9. The pace duo of Sandeep Warrier and Yadav used contrasting methods to finish with combined figures of 5 for 46 off their eight overs.

Warrier, who will fly off to join the India team as a net bowler on Thursday, hit the deck hard and relied on seam movement and bounce. Yadav used his slower variations to lull batsmen into big hits. In the middle overs, M Ashwin, the legspinner, and R Sai Kishore, the left-arm spinner, didn’t let the batsmen dictate terms.

Rishi Dhawan was the only batsman who looked fluent and adjusted to the pace of the surface quickly, finishing with an unbeaten 26-ball 35 to give the innings a late push, after Abhimanyu Rana and Nitin Sharma wasted starts to fall just as Himachal looked to accelerate at different stages. And as well as Vaibhav Arora made the new ball talk, prising out three huge top-order wickets, Himachal just didn’t have enough runs to stop Tamil Nadu’s counter-punch.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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