RCB hope to sustain momentum against Royals
Bengaluru, April 28 (IANS) Rejuvenated by two back-to-back victories that put their campaign back on track, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will be seeking to maintain the momentum when they host top guns Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Wednesday.
Fortified by the presence of Australian paceman Mitchell Starc, who played a key role in both wins in Ahmedabad and New Delhi after missing the early matches due to a knee injury, Virat Kohli’s RCB will be keen to extend the run of success as they reach the halfway mark in the league.
RCB, currently fourth with six points from as many games, had beaten Royals by nine wickets in Ahmedabad on Friday with Starc picking up three wickets to restrict the hosts to 130 before Kohli (62 not out) and AB de Villiers (47 not out) chased down the modest target in 16.1 overs.
The win snapped RCB’s string of three consecutive defeats and they went on to demolish Delhi Daredevils by 10 wickets at Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday with openers Kohli (35 not out) and Chris Gayle (62 not out) taking just 10.3 overs to ease past the home team’s total of 95 with Starc picking up his second set of three wickets.
In contrast, Royals, after a splendid start to the season with five consecutive victories, suffered a Super Over defeat to Kings XI Punjab followed by the loss to RCB which checked their progress before a no-result due to rains in Kolkata on Sunday earned them a point.
Thus, Shane Watson-led Royals have tripped a bit and their bowling has not quite shaped up as well as expected as they have taken just 32 wickets in eight matches as against 42 in six by the RCB, who even bowled out Daredevils.
However, Watson along with fellow-opener Ajinkya Rahane, the highest run-getter thus far in the season, along with compatriots Steve Smith and James Faulkner still form a formidable line-up with veteran spinner Pravin Tambe always a threat.
Yet, they will be up against a team high on confidence and RCB bowling is gradually emerging as a potent force spearheaded by Starc and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, currently their top wicket-taker. The duo is well-supported by the likes of left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla and seamers David Wiese and Varun Aaron.
If rain Gods permit, Wednesday’s game promises to be an explosive affair between two evenly matched sides with the result favouring the team that players smarter cricket.