Distraught after losing the last-ball thriller against Chennai Super Kings on Thursday, Royal Challengers Bangalore return home to take on Rajasthan Royals in Match 18 of IPL 5 on Sunday.
In spite of posting a massive total of 205, Bangalore’s bowlers couldn’t defend the score as a last-ball four by Ravindra Jadeja sealed a memorable win for Chennai. Giving the penultimate over to Virat Kohli proved extremely costly for Daniel Vettori and his team as 28 runs were scored off the military medium-pace of Kohli. Vinay Kumar also had a horrible outing as he was clobbered for 53 runs in his four overs while picking up just one wicket in the 20th over.
Avoiding a goof-up like the one in the previous match should be at the top of Vettori’s what-not-to-do list. What will the team’s strategy be, though, if one of their main bowlers gets the stick, just like in the last match? Bringing in Abhimanyu Mithun or Sreenath Aravind in place of Vinay could be a possibility.
The team’s top order clicked against CSK, but the form of the middle order still remains a big worry for RCB. AB de Villiers had a rare flop on Thursday, but he has been the form player for Bangalore this season, scoring 78 runs in three matches so far. The form of two young Indian batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara and Saurabh Tiwary, will be a big headache for the Ray Jennings and his staff. Pujara has totaled just 17 runs in three matches, while Tiwary has accumulated only 27 in as many outings. After failing as an opener, the team management gave Pujara a chance in the middle order, though the Saurashtra batsman got a first-ball duck. Giving a chance to Mohammad Kaif in place of Pujara seems quite realistic now.
Like Bangalore, Rajasthan are also coming into this game after a defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday. First their batsmen couldn’t gauge the slow nature of the Eden Garden wicket and then their bowlers couldn’t defend a target of 132. Making amends from their game against Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan included seasoned Brad Hodge against KKR, although sending him as late as at No. 6 didn’t help the team’s cause of scoring runs and keeping the wickets intact. It will also be interesting to see whether Shaun Tait will be included this time around. The paceman hasn’t got a game so far and can replace either offspinner Johan Botha or his fellow countryman Brad Hogg if the team decides to test RCB with pace.
The team’s two Indian seamers, Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi, have had an up-and-down season so far. While Singh has taken six wickets, Trivedi has picked up just three. Sreesanth, who hasn’t played a game this season, may get captain Rahul Dravid’s nod ahead of either Singh or Trivedi. Paul Collingwood may also get a look in if the team’s think-tank decides to go in with one foreign spinner instead of two. As both the teams are looking for a victory to get their campaign back on track, Sunday’s encounter may also turn out to be another nail-biter.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Saurabh Tiwary, 6 Raju Bhatkal, 7 Mohammad Kaif, 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Abhimanyu Mithun/Sreenath Aravind, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Shreevats Goswami (wk), 4 Brad Hodge, 5 Owais Shah, 6 Ashok Menaria, 7 Ankeet Chavan, 8 Brad Hogg, 9 Shaun Tait, 10 Sreesanth, 11 Amit Singh