Abu Dhabi, Oct 2 (IANS/GloFans) All eyes will be on Virat Kohli, captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who has failed to fire so far in the 13th IPL, when his team clashes with Rajasthan Royals (RR) here on Saturday. He has managed just 18 runs in three matches and it is high time he played a big knock. Will it be a ‘Saturday Special’ innings from him?
With two wins each from three games, both RCB and RR will aim to outdo each other when they square-off at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Saturday. Despite having equal number of points (four), the Steve Smith-led RR are sitting at the fourth spot, a place above the Kohli-captained RCB (run rate -1.450), thanks to their better net run-rate (-0.219).
RR won their first two games that they played in Sharjah, the smallest of the three venues being used, and then they faltered against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their previous match in Dubai.
After the first two convincing wins, KKR handed RR a reality check and their top-order with the likes of Sanju Samson, skipper Smith, and Jos Buttler failed to keep the momentum flowing. Young sensation Rahul Tewatia, too, disappointed and same was the case with Robin Uthappa, who has completely failed to fire in this season so far, having managed just 16 runs from three games.
It’s not that RR doesn’t possess a quality batting attack; they just failed to adapt to the conditions in Dubai, which has a far bigger boundary than Sharjah and Smith’s team will look to learn from their mistakes to muscle out RCB on Saturday.
Against KKR, Jofra Archer was quite impressive after bagging two for 18 runs and he needs to start from he left. However, the other RR bowlers — Ankit Rajpoot, Jaydev Unadkat, Tom Curran and Shreyas Gopal — had a below-par outing and they need to tighten their seat belts against a side which boasts of explosive hitters like AB de Villers, Aaron Finch, Shivan Dube, and Devdutt Padikkal.
Coming to RCB, their biggest weapon has undoubtedly been their batting. Barring their campaign opener against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH), the RCB bowlers haven’t been up to the mark in the other two games. And looking at RR’s top-order, who will be desperate to put their campaign back on track, they need to dish out their best on Saturday.
The RCB team management made three changes in their last game after including Isuru Udana, Adam Zampa, and Gurkeerat Mann in the XI and the trio is most likely play again against RR.
While Udana and Navdeep Saini will share the pace workload, Zampa, experienced Yuzvendra Chahal, and Washington Sundar will have the responsibility to get breakthroughs in the middle overs.
In batting, the major cause of concern will be the silence of skipper Kohli’s bat, which has produced just 18 runs from three games. The run-machine needs to get going as soon as possible which will surely inspire the other batters in his side, besides strengthening their middle-order.
RCB: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa
RR: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Steven Smith (captain), Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer