International captains Virat Kohli and Steven Smith will be eager to stem the rot when Royal Challengers Bangalore square off with Rising Pune Supergiants in an Indian Premier League encounter, here tomorrow. Both the high-profile franchises have lost three out of their four games and would want to arrest the slide as momentum can quickly shift in a high-paced T20 tournament.
While Kohli’s return from injury with a stylish half- century was a morale booster for th RCB but they would definitely be disappointed after losing a low-scoring game against Mumbai Indians, having them on the mat. Pune on the otherhand lost to GUjarat Lions despite a good start to their innings. Kohli and Smith — the two premier batsmen in world cricket will be desperate to change the script for their respective teams. They would want to plug the holes as well as lead from the front with their indvidual performances also.
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Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is also under pressure to score runs after an indifferent start to IPL-10. For RCB, the next two games give them an opportunity to get four points against two of the relatively unsettled side in the tournament — Pune and Gujarat. RCB are placed a notch above Gujarat Lions with two points for having better run rate, but a win could displace Kings XI Punjab, who play their next match only on April 17, from its current fourth position on the points-table.
Pune, on the flipside, would want to gain vital two points, before they take on in-form Sunrisers Hyderabad in their den and table-toppers Mumbai Indians in away-game, on April 22 and April 24. RCB, would like to take solace from the fact that leg- spinner Samuel Badree’s hat-trick posed a lot of trouble for the Mumbai Indians before Kieron Pollard saved their day.
Kohli’s 62 off 47 balls is also an indicator of the bigger and better things that can be expected from the Indian captain. The Indian captain also had stitched the highest opening stand of 63 runs with out-of-touch Chris Gayle, followed by a 47-run stand with AB de Villiers, who also came in after recovering from an injury. Gayle, who has been struggling to score even one half century in his last 11 innings, will expect his bat to do the talking as he was unable to unleash big hits in his knock of 22 off 27 balls, which was far from his best. The slowish Chinnaswamy track also added to his woers.
Chances of Gayle also getting dropped for the second time are rife as the team management could consider fielding Shane Watson, who can bowl and bat, compared to the West Indian who hardly bowls of late. RCB would also espect AB de Villiers’ scintillating comeback knock of an unbeaten 46-ball 89-run, which was laced with as many as nine sixes and three fours to help RCB post a respectable 148-4 after recovering from an injury.
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His 19 off 21 balls in death overs couldn’t save the blushes of his team as RCB could only post a modest 142 for five in their last match. Kedar Jadhav, who was unfortunately run-out for nine in the last game, would like to showcase his utility as middle- order batsman when he slammed a 37-ball 69 to help RCB score 157 runs during a 15-run win over Delhi Daredevils.
He had also smashed 31 in the opening match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. RCB would like to pin hopes on their bowlers, especially spinners Samuel Badree, who weaved a hat-trick against Mumbai Indians and Yuzuvendra Chahal and Pawan Negi, who have been among wickets.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Aravind, Aniket Choudhary, Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi, Harshal Patel, Adam Milne, Iqbal Abdulla, Samuel Badree, Avesh Khan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (captain), Faf du Plessis, Adam Zampa, Usman Khawja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Ankus Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Jaskarn Singh, Baba Aparajith, Deepak Chahar, Mayank Agarwal, Dnaiel Christian, Luckie Farguson, Ben Stokes and Manoj Tiwary.