Bangalore, April 22 (IANS) Hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore would be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the league table and also maintain their unbeaten run at home when they face a struggling Pune Warriors India in the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) here Tuesday.
Royal Challengers, led by the aggressive Virat Kohli, have looked unbeatable at the Chinnaswamy stadium, a couple of close games notwithstanding. In fact, their only two defeats so far in seven outings have been in away matches, at Hyderabad and Chennai.
With 10 points from seven outings, Royal Challengers have an excellent opportunity to pick up two more that should establish them as among the favourites to qualify for the next stage of the competition.
In contrast, the Pune Warriors have won just two of their seven games and their poor run has been a great injustice to the wealth of talent they boast. They have had three captains this season, the latest being Aaron Finch, the hard-hitting opening batsman who has been in good form.
The Warriors would be looking up to him to lead from the front, like he did with a half-century at Mohali Sunday night when the Pune team looked to be at its strongest after another round of shuffling that saw Luke Wright getting his first game and making it count with a cameo.
Also, with Yuvraj Singh returning to the team after recovering from injury, the Warriors have the arsenal to score, but their bowlers are yet to make their presence felt as was evident at Mohali when Pune could not defend a total of 185.
After a string of defeats and frequent changes in leadership, the Warriors looked to have finally got their combination right in the Mohali game, but their bowlers again faltered in the end overs when they conceded far too many runs.
The Warriors bowlers need to raise their game a notch or two, especially since they will be up against some heavy-hitters like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Saurabh Tiwary, all of whom are in prime form.
While Royal Challengers' batting has been the focal point of their five home wins, the bowling has been restrictive at best though the likes of Vinay Kumar and Ravi Rampaul, the West Indian seamer, have enjoyed inspiring spells in helpful conditions.
Overall, the Royal Challengers definitely enjoy the advantage and once again they start out as hot favourites against a side that has been performing way below expectations but is capable of causing surprises, like their win against the Chennai Super Kings barely a week ago.