Sanju Samson’s side will need to find a recipe for success. And so on
AB de Villiers is in form. Glenn Maxwell is thriving. Somehow, a hard team found a way to adjust to the slowest pitch in the IPL.
When Chennai provided even the slightest hint of a batting track, Royal Challengers Bangalore grabbed 29 boundaries against a pretty decent bowling team.
Imagine the damage they can do in a place like Wankhede. An unbeaten start to the tournament with their key players clicking. All they need now is Virat Kohli’s masterclass.
Rajasthan Royals is just as dangerous as the bat. They have threatened to go after 222. But they have also dilapidated from 87 at 2 to 95 for 7. Sanju Samson, their captain, had a wry smile on his face when he spoke of this nature of them in the presentation at the last game. He will need to find a solution for this, quickly.
Although he has not played any part in the Royals games so far, one of their batting options, Liam Livingstone, has left the IPL with bubble fatigue.
Finn Allen is very popular. Wankhede is a very small land. It’s a match made in T20 heaven and on a podcast with commentator Ian Smith, Royal Challengers coach Mike Hesson suggested they could take advantage of that. Allen hit 71 off 29 the last time he played a cricket match.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Virat Kohli (capt), 2 Finn Allen, 3 Devdutt Padikkal, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Kyle Jamieson, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shahbaz Ahmed, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal / Manan Vohra, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Shivam Dube / Shreyas Gopal, 5 David Miller, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Jaydev Unadkat, 10 Chetan Sakariya, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
- Shreyas Gopal has dismissed de Villiers four times, and Kohli three times in T20 cricket. Royals may find head-to-head worth exploring again.
- Yuzvendra Chahal has sacked Samson five times in T20 cricket. He has also sacked David Miller three times in five flyovers in the IPL. The Royal Challengers are already using their penalty-ace as an over-the-middle wicket player. Based on those ends, wickets are likely to be available.
Statistics are important
- Although he has had to deal with Chennai’s slow, spinning conditions, de Villiers has been IPL 202’s most destructive death-defying bat (16-20). He has made 75 runs off 30 balls at a strike rate of 250. Thanks for him, Royal Challengers has maintained a run rate of 11.75 at this stage of the game
- Royals, meanwhile, has one of the worst performing death bowling attacks this season, dropping 12 runs per outing. This pairing is not going to go well.
- Royal Challengers bought Maxwell to attack spin and to power them through the middle blades (6-16). So far, it has worked delicacies. He is the only player in this IPL to score more than 100 runs against spinners, a he has not been dismissed by them. He has also made 125 runs in 87 balls in the middle tiers (6-16) of this IPL. Only Shikhar Dhawan (145 off 93) has done better.
- Chetan Sakariya has used his left arm angle very graphically against right-handed batters. Of his six wickets this season, five have been right-handed. There are three giants in the Royal Challengers program that Royals will want him to pull out.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo