In their last meeting with the Challengers, the Royals were walked all over and had to face an eight-wicket defeat.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), with five victories in eight games thus far, have managed to script a picture much better than what they have been doing in the years gone by in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The franchise have a monstrous, and arguably the most loyal fan base amongst all other teams. Whether one is an RCB-supporter or not, the on-field antics of skipper Virat Kohli in the last encounter, which RCB lost by eight wickets to Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), were more bamboozling than a Christopher Nolan-movie.
The move of holding back AB de Villiers until the 16th over, sending not only Shivam Dube, but even Washington Sundar above him in the order, was a move that heavily backfired for the team. To add to this, RCB did not use Sundar in the powerplay overs, despite him being a sure success in that slot of the innings. More than anything, when Kohli – who admitted that the “move did not come through” – steps out to meet Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Saturday doubleheader at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, he would want to not take such inexplicable decisions.
Questionable on-field decisions aside, skipper Kohli looked in good touch during his 48-run knock. Some late acceleration by Chris Morris, who slammed three sixes and a four in his eight-ball 25 run blinder, took RCB to 171 for six in their allotted overs. Coming to defend the total, the Challengers’ bowlers failed to make an impression as half-centuries from KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, after the former and Mayank Agarwal gave a solid start to the team, led them to a much-needed victory.
On the other hand, the Royals have not been able to get their eyes in properly and are placed second-last in the table with five defeats and three victories. The top-order for the team has been a constant concern, where they have tried as many as three different combinations between Steve Smith, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ben Stokes, and Jos Buttler. Further, the lost touch of Sanju Samson and Smith in the crucial position has burdened their middle-order unreasonably.
In this encounter, RR are coming after losing against the Delhi Capitals (DC) by 13 runs. A loss as bizarre as any, it must hurt the Royals that they faltered in the chase despite needing only 39 from 30 at one stage. However, this is what their fortunes have been like this year: topsy-turvy. In their last meeting with RCB, Steve Smith’s men were walked over and had to face an eight-wicket defeat. Coming in this reverse fixture, RR would certainly want to end on the correct side of the result.
Pitch and conditions
This being a day encounter, the impact of dew will be negligible. All the players are in for testing conditions as the torrid weather of Dubai and the ground dimensions will surely be a challenge to counter. There will be some movement available for the pacers with the new ball, although the spinners have started to get more success as the tracks are being used repeatedly.
Playing Combinations for RR vs RCB
Though Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler made valuable contributions batting at the top-order, the management might want to rethink the strategy of using Stokes as an opener. Robin Uthappa has been blowing hot and cold this season and he has not looked at ease batting in the middle-order after leaving his usual position at the top.
Jofra Archer has been in red-hot form, however, he has rarely gotten the ideal support with the ball from the other end. Jayadev Unadkat has not been able to make much of an impact as he has neither too many wickets under his belt to show, nor has he been able to contain the runs. Karthik Tyagi has come off well so far and he would want to make the most of the opportunities coming his way.
Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (WK), Steve Smith (C), Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa/Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Aaron Finch has been in the runs, although he has done little justice to his ballistic abilities with the bat. Finch’s partner Devdutt Padikkal has been a sensation and sweet addition to the side. Virat Kohli has struck good form after an uncharacteristic start and AB de Villiers has continued to prove that age is just a number. The team must be cautious to not experiment too much as that could be detrimental for the momentum.
The addition of Chris Morris has boded extremely well for the team as his all-round abilities have assisted the team consistently. The spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar took a beating in the last game, although they have been bowling quite well in tandem otherwise. An area of concern for the team, however, will be Mohammad Siraj’s lack of discipline with the ball.
Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (WK), Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
RR vs RCB Head to Head
Played- 22 | RR won- 10 | RCB won- 9 | NR- 3
Match Timings- 3:30 PM (IST), 2:00 PM (Local).
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