In the second week of Indian Premier League (IPL), Rajasthan Royals will launch their IPL campaign at home after a gap of two years. IPL 2018 started with a bang, and now, Royals will take on Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday, 8 pm. Royals, the home side, will hope for a winning start while Daredevils will launch their bid for their first win in IPL 2018.
Sidelined from 2016 and 2017's editions of the IPL due to an illegal betting scandal, the Royals splashed some fat cash on their return - and have to demand much more from two players in particular: all-rounder Ben Stokes and seamer Jaydev Unadkat. The two were the most expensive players at the auction, and with Sanju Samson also in the top 10 of the most pricey players, the pressure to deliver for dollars is undoubtedly on.
At the top of the Delhi batting order, Gautam Gambhir and Colin Munro will have to be in Rajasthan's sights, after which the lower-order hitting of Chris Morris and Dan Christian will have to be combated. On both fronts, the opening and death bowling of Dhawal Kulkarni - with his cleverly disguised slower balls - will be crucial.
Delhi will be eager to capitalise against a Royals outfit that suffered a massive one-sided defeat than they did during the opening throes of the tournament. While the conditions won't exactly play into their hands, it hardly qualifies as a home ground advantage for Rajasthan either.
The Daredevils will have to find somebody to bat around Gambhir. If not Munro, then any one of a host of Indian middle-order talent. Rishabh Pant promised so much in last year's IPL and had since gone onto T20I cricket. Here he has a big opportunity to show that he is worth investing in at both franchise and international level.
Previous meetings between the two teams fall in favour of Rajasthan - but only just. The Royals have come away with the points on eight occasions, whereas the Daredevils has been the victors six times.
Rajasthan Royal's possible XI
Sanju Samson, D’Arcy Short, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma
Delhi Daredevils possible XI
Colin Munro, Gautam Gambhir (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Glenn Maxwell, Vijay Shankar, Chris Morris, Liam Plunkett, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem