Rishabh Pant’s absence will loom large when Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru spar in a must-win clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

The DC skipper has been suspended for one match after his team maintained a slow over-rate against Rajasthan Royals on May 7. It was Pant’s third such penalty, triggering the ban.

With five wins out of the last seven games, fifth-placed DC, riding on the batting might of Pant, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Abishek Porel et al., was looking good for the playoffs. But the side will now have to do without its maverick batter and top-scorer Pant (413 runs at SR 156.43).

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Axar Patel will lead in his absence and it helps that the left-arm spinner has been one of DC’s standout players. In 12 games this season, the 30-year-old has bowled 40 miserly overs at an economy rate 7.32, an astonishing number in an IPL where totals in excess of 240 have become par for the course.

But in a rejuvenated RCB, DC will find a tough opponent. Faf du Plessis’ men lost seven of their first eight matches, but have strung together four successive wins to still have a shot at the playoffs.

A settled batting line-up led by the in-form Virat Kohli has been instrumental in this turnaround, and so has the blossoming of the spin-combination involving leggie Karn Sharma and left-armer Swapnil Singh.

However, the weather could prove a spoiler. After a scorching summer, the parched souls in the Garden City have joyously welcomed evening showers this past week. But for once, they will want the rain to stay away.