RCB v MI Preview: 5 Things To Watch Out For
It’s been a slow start for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 10th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). But with the imminent return of a key someone, could the tables turn in favour of the Red and Golds? Here are the five key talking points ahead of their clash with the Mumbai Indians at home on Friday.
Here’s some good news for RCB enthusiasts – Virat Kohli was declared fit by the BCCI Medical Team on Thursday and will definitely boost his side’s incoherent batting order, after losing two out of their three matches in his absence so far. Stats prove that the skipper, who had dropped hints about his return to complete fitness via a cryptic Instagram video earlier this week, has been sorely missed by the Bengaluru outfit.
He had amassed a staggering tally of 973 runs at a near implausible average of 81.08 in 16 matches last season. With the help of four centuries and seven 50s, this became the highest ever run aggregate by a player in a single IPL season. The Indian captain’s heroics had led his team to the final of the previous edition and he will now look to lift the team from a lowly sixth position in the table at the moment.
AB’s death over challenge
With the entire batting lineup misfiring, South African super-batsman AB de Villiers raised his hand to light up the Holkar Stadium in Indore during the Bengaluru side’s previous encounter (against Kings XI Punjab). His 46-ball 89 helped RCB collect a remarkable 77 runs in the last five overs as opposed to only 71 in the first 15.
The Proteas cricketer took on the likes of Sandeep Sharma towards the fag end of the innings but he will be wary of the Mumbai Indians bowling lineup that boasts of death over specialists in Lasith Mailnga and Jaspreet Bumrah. After conceding 81 without reward in the first 10 overs against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday, they strangled their opponents by picking seven wickets for just 72 runs in the next ten.
Well-rounded MI bowling attack
Apart from the pacer duo of Malinga and Bumrah, the rest of the Mumbai Indian bowling lineup has also played its part in setting up both their victories in the competition so far. Veteran offie Harbhajan Singh has proved his worth after being dropped out of the team initially. He returned figures of 23 for 2 off his four overs despite a David Warner-shaped assault initially.
Left-hand New Zealand fast-bowler Mitchell McClenaghan has been the only weakling in the MI bowling attack with an economy rate north of 10 runs an over. However, one shouldn’t be surprised if Mumbai decide to stick with him; bought in the 2015 auction, the Kiwi has become a valuable member of the squad with 38 wickets in 29 games.
Pandya brothers on song
The Pandya brothers – Hardik and Krunal, have further compounded the strengths of the MI bowling lineup with their versatility. The former, with his medium pace, gave away a frugal 22 in his three overs against the Sunrisers but more importantly picked up the key wicket of hard-hitting Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh, who smashed a blistering half-century in SRH’s opening game this season.
The latter, on the other hand, was ineffective with the ball on the night but proved his utility with the bat. His quickfire 37 provided an assurance of safety to the chase in Mumbai’s pursuit of a tricky 159. With performances like these, he has proved his worth as an effective number six batter, who can also come handy with the ball on his day.
Yuzi needs support
Things look a little contrasting in the bowling department when it comes to the home camp. The RCB bowlers have failed to break partnerships in the three matches that they have played so far, with legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal being the only silver lining. He has picked up a wicket apiece in each of the matches at an economy rate of a shade above six an over.
Elsewhere, Billy Stanlake, the lanky Australian fast bowler, has impressed with pace and bounce in his two games. The Chinnaswamy team could also opt for the services of Samuel Badree, the West Indian legspinner, who can chip in with some effective overs during the field restrictions.
Article by MKM Faiyaz Ahmed
Image Credits: royalchallengers.com, mensxp, The Indian Express
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