The talisman has returned. As if the mouth-watering prospect of watching a Mumbai-RCB game wasn’t enough, Virat Kohli, absent for nearly a month, has chosen the MI clash as his return fixture.
When Virat Kohli jammed his shoulder while fielding in the Ranchi Test last month, there were concerns about his availability for the IPL, the extent of his absence being unknown. He returns to bail out Bangalore from troubled waters, against an opposition that is riding on the wave of two back to back wins.
For RCB, the return to Chinnaswamy brings back hopes of a better showing, their only win coming in their fixture against the Delhi Daredevils at their home ground. But this is a sterner test, against a team which is spirited to fight down to the wire. The two major concerns for the Mumbai team will be the lowly form of Rohit Sharma, as well as the off-colour bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan.
The combination seems really odd for RCB: Chris Gayle hasn’t fired yet, Shane Watson has been an indifferent captain, and while the top seems heavy with an in-form AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli back in the mix, the rest of the batting attack just tapers off.
The Mumbai Indians, with a convincing win over last time winners Sunrisers Hyderabad, have shown that they are a cohesive unit, working well on the back of youngsters like Nitish Rana and the Pandya brothers. Kieron Pollard has been undergoing a rut and might need a break to get himself back in the right frame of mind.
Match date: 14-04-2017
Match time: 1600 hours (IST)
Venue: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
If Royal Challengers Bangalore bat first
Predicted score: 180+
With a line-up comprising of the likes of Kohli, AB de Villiers, Watson and Gayle, a score of less than 180 at the Chinnaswamy will be close to dismal. The non-performing duo of Gayle and Watson need to fire all cylinders in the initial overs, so that there is less pressure on the inexperienced lower middle order to provide the final flourish to the innings.
The MI bowling attack is a tight unit: Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah can stifle you along with Harbhajan Singh. The Pandya brothers then fill in with their overs, making it very difficult for the opposition to score off.
If Mumbai Indians bat first
Predicted score: 175+
Mumbai has depth in their batting, despite a fickle top-3. But, the day Rohit Sharma comes to his own, the rest of the batsmen won’t have much to worry about. Their biggest advantage is the presence of big hitters like Hardik Pandya and Nitish Rana, who can bring the long handle to some great effect.
Bangalore’s bowling department, despite the inclusion of Billy Stanlake, still looks out of depth, and could need the recall of either of Sreenath Aravind or Aniket Choudhary.
Predicted winners: Mumbai Indians