Having already come up second best in their home fixture against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in IPL 5, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will be desperate for a turnaround at the Sawai Mansingh stadium on Monday, when the two teams gear up for another scrap. While with four wins from seven outings, Rajasthan are placed second on the points table, the sailing has not been that smooth for Bangalore who have three wins and as many losses from their six matches.
As always the key to RCB’s chances will depend on Chris Gayle finding his Midas touch, whereas the flip side of the coin would suggest that the best way forward for RR would be accounting for the Gayle factor at the earliest. The numbers speak for themselves – in his five innings so far in the tournament, the powerful West Indian has amassed 246 runs at an average of 49.20 and a strike rate of 157.69. His latest assault on the opposition bowlers saw him registering his highest score of 87 in the tournament, which came off a mere 56 deliveries during Bangalore’s five-wicket triumph over Kings XI Punjab on Friday.
However, Rajasthan have enough in their armoury to believe that they could once again have the measure of Bangalore in the competition. Even though they were at the receiving end of a last-ball finish against the Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, the team can take heart from the fact that they successfully chased down a target of 197 the last time that they played at home, after the Deccan Chargers had put up 196 for 2 in their 20 overs.
What would be worrying RR though is the struggle they have had to undergo in getting wickets. Even though the match against Chennai was a close call which could have gone either way, the defending champions were in fact victorious by seven wickets. Prior to that in the game against Deccan, Rajasthan managed to dismiss just two batsmen.
If one is to go by the previous encounters between the two sides, it’s four wins apiece, which would probably indicate towards another humdinger for RR, after their narrow loss at the Chepauk, but the fact that Rajasthan Royals have proved to be a tough proposition at home, might just tilt the balance ever so slightly in their favour, as they get ready to host Bangalore.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Rahul Dravid (capt), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Owais Shah, 4 Ashok Menaria, 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Shreevats Goswami (wk), 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Kevin Cooper, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Ankeet Chavan, 11 Pankaj Singh
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Andrew McDonald, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Arun Karthik, 9 Vinay Kumar, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Sreenath Aravind