Royal Challengers Bangalore will be striving to keep their IPL hopes alive when they meet an equally inconsistent Rising Pune Supergiant in an Indian Premier League encounter, here tomorrow. Current India captain Virat Kohli’s team has lost six out of their nine games and are second-last on the table with five points in their kitty. For RCB, a defeat will mean that the tournament will be as good as over. They still have slim hopes if they can win all their remaining five games and hope for some favourable results from the other games. Rising Pune Supergiant are slightly better off with eight points from eight games with four wins in their kitty. But even RPS has been inconsistent at one level. They have been good on certain days and very ordinary on other days.
Skipper Steve Smith will like to address that issue when they face RCB, who are already down in the dumps after a string of defeats. However T20 is a format where things change so quickly, RCB with their world-class batting line-up cannot be ruled out completely. Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers can destroy any bowling attack on a given day and RPS save Ben Stokes (6 wickets) and Imran Tahir (10 wickets), don’t have much to write home about.
The Indian pacers like Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur has down well in patches. But the Pune outfit will be facing RCB when their confidence has hit nadir. The team is not doing well and perhaps it is the best time for RPS bowlers to put Kohli and Company into some sort of trouble.
In the batting department, the find of the season for Pune has been local boy Rahul Tripathi, who has scored 216 runs in six games but more importantly at an impressive strike-rate of 154.28 which includes 24 boundaries and eight sixes. Only Smith with 275 runs (26 boundaries and seven sixes) has scored more than him. Former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has mustered only 152 runs at a strike-rate of 120 plus with his only match-winning knock coming against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
A lot will again depend on the kind of platform that Tripathi provides at the start of the innings. India international Ajinkya Rahane’s form has also been a concern as he has been able to score only a single 50 batting at the top of the order in all the matches. There will also be some pressure on Stokes to prove his whopping price tag of Rs 14.5 crore. He has bowled some really good overs including superb death bowling against the Mumbai Indians which earned him Man of the Match award. But he has been a bit off-colour when it comes to batting having scored only 127 runs in eight games.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Vishnu Vinod, Sreenath Arvind, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Samuel Badree, Iqbal Abdulla, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Avesh Khan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tymal Mills, Aniket Chaudhary, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.