Exactly two matches into their IPL 2020 campaign, the Rajasthan Royals looked absolutely unstoppable after picking up wins against the Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab to commence their season in style.
However, three matches later, the Royals' campaign has taken a nosedive, with the team having registered a hat-trick of losses.
Today, the Steve Smith-led side have their best shot at getting back to winning ways when they return to Sharjah for one last time this season. However, against a solid Delhi Capitals unit, the Royals will have quite the uphill task of rediscovering their lost mojo.
The Capitals have hardly put a foot wrong in IPL 2020 so far, and with four wins from five games, the team's faithful are already harboring dreams of their first title.
And rightly so. Apart from the Indian core that has worked so very well for the side, the additions of Anrich Nortje and Marcus Stoinis have made quite the difference. And as for Shimron Hetmyer, he might be one game away from a big knock, and that day could be today.
Sharjah has no doubt been a graveyard for the bowlers, and we could be in for a high-scoring Delhi v Rajasthan clash today.
IPL 2020: RR v DC Match Prediction
There's no doubt that the Royals batsmen were at the top of their game in their two games at Sharjah, but against an incisive Capitals bowling unit, they will have their task cut out.
The musical chairs in the Royals' batting unit could well come to bite them, with none of the batsmen apart from Jos Buttler assured of their batting position. Young Yashasvi Jaiswal was picked, dropped and then picked again, and it will be interesting to see how the pressure of needing to put on a show plays on his mind today.
That said, the Capitals will know that all of RR's hopes are pinned on Buttler, Smith and Samson, with the rest of the batting unit having flattered to deceive so far.
Lest one forgets, Rahul Tewatia turned zero to hero in just one over after his five sixes off Sheldon Cottrell's one over scripted one of the Royals' best victories at this very ground.
However, given the constant chopping and changing and the warranted move to bench Robin Uthappa, the Royals will need their top four to fire. If not, they could find themselves in a whole world of trouble.
As for their bowling unit, barring Jofra Archer, none of their bowlers have had an impact. The youth and exuberance of Kartik Tyagi was preferred over the experience that Jaydev Unadkat brings to the table in RR's last game, and it will be interesting to see if the Royals make any changes on the bowling front ahead of this clash.
Iyer's Capitals have played just the one game, which saw them put up the highest total (228/4) this season, at Sharjah. While Shaw laid the platform for a big score with a 41-ball 66, Iyer was at his destructive best and smashed his way to an unbeaten 38-ball 88.
While they were run close courtesy of some late hitting from Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi, the Capitals managed to hold their nerve and eventually picked up an 18-run win.
With the Royals returning to their happy hunting ground where the batsmen have made merry, it will be interesting to see if the Rabada-Nortje pair manage to make early inroads into the RR batting.
That said, Axar Patel has the best economy rate (4.57 RPO) in IPL 2020, and notably, he was benched to accommodate the returning Ravichandran Ashwin against KKR at Sharjah.
With the spinners having zero to minimal impact in Sharjah so far, the onus will be on Axar and Ashwin to ensure that the RR batsmen don't find their good ol' Sharjah form.
If one was to consider an overall picture though, the Capitals have all the momentum in the world. With RR still unsure about their best XI, Iyer might just be the happier captain tonight.
Prediction: DC to win today.Published 09 Oct 2020, 10:32 IST