Cricket news - Rajasthan out to keep slim qualification hopes alive

Steve Smith and Riyan Parag shared an excellent partnership against Mumbai Indians.

Everyone trips at some point in sport. Even the champions aren't resistant to the law of winning and losing. Rajasthan Royals, for all their overseas star-power, could barely buy a win as they slipped into the losing habit, suffering six reverses from their first eight games.

They desperately yearned for a spark that could lift them from the depths of despair, and that spark came in the form of Steven Smith replacing Ajinkya Rahane as captain ahead of the previous game. He didn't just lead the franchise admirably in their game against Mumbai Indians in Jaipur but also anchored the chase with a 48-ball unbeaten 59 as the Royals posted a morale-boosting five-wicket victory.

Barring the catching, it was a clinical show from Rajasthan: Jofra Archer again spearheaded the attack and varied his lengths to keep the opposition in check. To capsulise his range of skills, he bowled a sharp short delivery at Hardik Pandya in the 16th over. In the previous game, he also revealed the back-of-the-hand slower short ball. Shreyas Gopal again showed his worth by picking a couple of scalps. The 17-year-old Riyan Pirag also gave a glimpse of his immense skills with a 29-ball 43.

Rajasthan's hopes of qualifying for playoffs, however, continue to hang by a thread. Jos Buttler the premier batsman, had to fly back home to be with his wife, who is expecting her first child. Rahane has struggled for form, compiling just 213 runs so far. Ben Stokes, the all rounder, hasn't exactly made his presence felt with either the bat or ball. On the bowling front, Jaydev Unadkat's lack of penetration has been a worry although he was severely let down by the team's fielding in the last game.

Delhi, their opponents, are comfortably placed at third on the points table with 12 points, having won four of their last five games. Kagiso Rabadahas bowled with pace and discipline and sports the Purple Cap with 21 scalps so far. Sandeep Lamichhane and Chris Morris have also chipped in with crucial scalps. On the flip side, their batting line-up, mostly made up of strokemarkers, has fired only in spurts on the slower surfaces at home, the kind of which could be in store in Jaipur on Monday.

When: Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals, April 22, 8:00 PM local

Where: Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

What to expect: The track in Jaipur tends to offer variable bounce and scores in the range of 160-170 could turn out to be a competitive total while batting first.

Team news:

Rajasthan Royals

There is no reason for Royals to tweak the combination after winning their game against MI. And one of the three changes, Parag also shone brightly

Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Steven Smith (c), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Ashton Tuner/Liam Livingstone, Stuart Binny, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat.

Delhi Capitals

DC too might carry forward with the winning team. Rishabh Pant's form has a been a cause for concern, but he is one of the mainstays of the line-up and the Delhi franchise would most likely back him to find his touch. Prithvi Shaw is another batsman who hasn't exactly been among the runs.

Probable XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Ingram, Axar Patel, Sherfane Rutherford, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishant Sharma.

What they said:

"I haven't contributed as much as I would've liked through the tournament and it feels really nice to have gotten the boys over the line" - Stevn Smith after taking RR home against MI.