Match Preview :-
Rajasthan Royals have had an odd start to their IPL return. In Hyderabad, their batsmen didn’t turn up, leaving the bowlers with very little to defend, and the win at home came after DLS method gave them a nudge and set a slightly out-of-bounds six-over target for Delhi Daredevils. They touched down in Bengaluru with two points and confidence in tow, and caught Friday’s game where a high-spec RCB engine began to rev-up after a cold start in Kolkata.
What RR also witnessed was that their biggest IPL bully – AB de Villiers – hit the ground running with a match-winning half century. AB’s 40-ball 57 included a devastating onslaught in young Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s final over that swung the game in RCB’s favour. Before they can get to nullifying the South Africa’s threat, there’s Brendon McCullum at the top, who has a free pass to swing at anything directed his way, and Virat Kohli – who has so far succumbed to a part-timer’s full ball and a promissing spinner’s early contender for ball-of-the-season. At some point, the limited-overs giant will shrug off the slumber and play to his true 2018 self.
Ajinkya Rahane can take a cue from Ravichandran Ashwin on how well to rotate his bowlers, and hope for them to make life difficult for RCB’s top-order. The spinners, in particular, will be under the microscope, if they’re brought on in the first six overs. Rahane has a reliable option in Krishnappa Gowtham, who has bowled in the powerplay and is familiar with the trade of wicket-taking as well as run-containment in the early overs.
For RCB,Friday’s biggest takeaway is the fact that their bowling unit clicked. Umesh Yadav dealt early blows and then Washington Sundar ensured there wasn’t a late encore that would’ve made the chase a lot tougher. It’s only a matter of the top-order putting on the sort of show they’re capable of to bring the RCB faithful to their feeton Sunday, and find a sync between their batting and bowling performance – something they dearly missed last year – going ahead.
While Rajasthan Royals prepare to cut-short RCB’s home joys, they will also have one eye on the unforgiving fixtures ahead. After Sunday’s 4pm game in Bengaluru, RR play three matches in five days- a trip to Mumbai sandwiched between two home games from April 18 to 22. The result against RCB becomes even more crucial, considering the sort of toll constant travel and reduced rest can have on the immediate match days.
When: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals,April 15, 2018 4 PM IST
Where: M Chinnaswamy Stadium
What to expect: A clear evening in the offing in the first 4pm game of the season in Bangalore.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The opening home game revealed a thing or two about the nature of the much-debated Chinnaswamy surface. It wasn’t as flat and batsmen-friendly as it was in 2016, but neither was it at its sluggish best a la 2017. Spinners who put in extra bit of effort were able to generate considerable amount of turn. Which should push RCB into a huddle. They’ve sworn by their five-bowler theory irrespective of the results in the first two games, but the team might just benefit from fielding an extra spinner in either Pawan Negi or Murugan Ashwin. Should they choose to do that, they’ll also have to decide if a bowler makes way to keep the bowling unit to five members or a batsman like Sarfaraz Khan is pushed to the bench.
Probable XI: Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan/Pawan Negi/Murugan Ashwin, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Kulwant Khejroliya
On the eve of the game, the highly-rated Jofra Archer took to the nets and appeared comfortable after having suffered a side strain in the recently-concluded PSL that kept him out of RR’s first two fixtures. One look at the RCB batting line-up could tempt Rahane to swap Jofra in for Ben Laughlin. The 23-year-old also comes with a T20 strike-rate of 143.38, and can form a devastating middle-to-lower order troika with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane, D’Arcy Short, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Jos Buttler, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin/Jofra Archer
– RCB lead RR 8-7 in the 16 match-ups between them, with one ending in no-result.
– AB de Villiers has 485 runs in 13 innings at 48.50 [Strike rate 140.98, 6 X 50s, HS – 79*] vs Rajasthan Royals – most by a player against Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
– Virat Kohli has scored 78 runs off 66 balls from Dhawal Kulkarni and has been dismissed four times.
Yuzvendra Chahal [71 wickets] needs two more wickets to topple R Vinay Kumar as the leading wicket-taker for RCB.
What he said
“Yes we did get to watch the [RCB] game [on Friday]. We wanted to know what the wicket was doing. When the bowlers were bowling, there was a little bit of grip initially, so it is an added advantage I would say.” – Krishnappa Gowtham, Rajasthan Royals spinner.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (From): Quinton de Kock(w), Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli(c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Kulwant Khejroliya, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Manan Vohra, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Corey Anderson, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee
Rajasthan Royals (From): Ajinkya Rahane(c), D Arcy Short, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler(w), Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Jofra Archer, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Ish Sodhi, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera, Heinrich Klaasen