Loaded with big names, both sides are strong contenders for the title. RCB with the inclusion of ABD and Kohli will be entering the game with a full strength squad while Mumbai Indians have momentum on their side after having won their last two matches.
Hence, this contest promises to highly entertaining and we pick out some of the key player battles from this game which are sure to boost the excitement levels.
#1 Rohit Sharma vs. Yuzvendra Chahal
With individual scores of 3, 2, and 4 in last three innings, Rohit Sharma is having a nightmare with the bat this season. But given his past record and enormous potential, he has the potential to be the most dangerous batsman in this format. And it may take only one good innings for the Mumbai skipper to end his drought.
The batting-friendly surface and short boundaries at Chinnaswamy stadium would certainly help Sharma but his task will be made difficult by the RCB spinner Yuzvendra Chahal who is known for keeping things quiet in the middle overs.
Chahal hasn’t featured frequently in the wickets column this season but his impressive economy rate of 6.08 makes him an ace weapon for RCB. Thus Rohit Sharma will have to find a way of scoring runs against the crafty leg spin bowling of Chahal to ensure Mumbai scores enough runs in the middle overs.
#2 Kieron Pollard vs. Tymal Mills
In this battle between the finishers, there is plenty to look forward. Purchased at a record price, Mills has been RCB’s best bait to prevent the onslaught in the death overs.
With well-disguised slower balls and control over length, Mills is a difficult bowler to face at the death; however, it will be fascinating to see how impressive he will be against the brute power of Pollard.
The West Indies batsman favours straight boundaries but is also strong on the back foot and plays the pull shot to good effect. Mills’ go to delivery has been the length ball which he delivers sometimes at an awkwardly slow pace. Hence, against Pollard, Mills will have to be dead accurate with his deliveries because anything loose will be dispatched in the stands.
#3 AB de Villiers vs. Jasprit Bumrah
After making headlines with his unconventional bowling action, Jasprit Bumrah now has established himself as one of the best death over bowlers in the shorter format of the game. He operates at a decent pace but the key to his success has been his accurate yorkers which are difficult to hit.
Against RCB, Bumrah will have to think beyond these yorkers because he will be facing a batsman who doesn’t adhere to any batting rules and has the ability to score runs anywhere at any part of the ground.
De Villiers with his tremendous batting display against Punjab has proved that he is completely fit and is looking at his best. He is one of the rare batsmen who hits the blockhole deliveries with ease. He does that by shuffling across and getting into weird batting positions. Bumrah will have to up the ante to contain AB de Villiers and how he does that will be entertaining to watch.
#4 Virat Kohli vs. Lasith Malinga
All eyes will be on the RCB skipper as he plays his first game of the season. After an unbelievable batting display last season, Kohli is expected to do the same in this edition as well after having a marvellous year on the international front. Against Mumbai, he faces some quality bowling and his biggest challenge will be the wily old fox Lasith Malinga, against whom he has enjoyed astounding success in the past.
Malinga has always been a bowler who has been difficult to pick because of his low arm action. Whilst he might not have the pace anymore, but his guile and deceptions are still things to behold. His yorkers along with the slower short deliveries have made Malinga arguablt the most lethal bowler in IPL history.
But Virat Kohli with his powerful wrists and strong on-side play has found able answers to Malinga’s yorkers. In the past, he has whipped him to fine leg, has flicked him over square leg boundary and has looked totally unscratched against Malinga.
So, when these two meet at Bangalore on Friday, Malinga will be aiming to settle scores against Kohli, while the prolific Indian batsman will be looking to replicate his past success.