Languishing at the bottom of the table, having won just one out of their five games, the Royal Challengers Bangalore find themselves in a familiar fix in this season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well. Whether they can conjure up the magic in the way they did last season and make a campaign out of their mere participation is yet to be seen, but they might as well start from tonight's game against the Gujarat Lions.
The Lions aren't in a very good state in their own being either, as they are the second-placed side from the bottom and have had problems of their own. Therefore, for once, Virat Kohli and his men would look to bounce back to winning ways keeping in mind the fact that they're playing away from home, which is a good sign for them as they've lost two of their three home games.
For the 20th match of the IPL, here is the probable playing XI for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Virat Kohli looks to be in a league of his own at the moment. Even on the slow Chinnaswamy pitch prepared for their last home game against the Rising Pune Supergiant, Kohli batted freely and raced on his way to a 19-ball 28 with 3 fours and a six, even as other batsmen struggled to get bat on ball including the mighty AB de Villiers. The captain looks to be in ominous touch and his innings could prove out to be the turning point of the match.
Chris Gayle, surprisingly, hasn't played all the games for the Royal Challengers this season. This may be attributed to his poor run with the bat, but it is well known that the explosive Caribbean batsman is always one shot away from home. The destruction that he is capable of unleashing is well known and if he fires tonight, RCB might be in for a big total. A big innings is due from his bat as well.
Mandeep Singh hasn't been in the best of touches this season and would look to alter that in this game. The aggressive opening batsman certainly has all the shots in his book but somehow hasn't been able to play long innings and has thrown his wicket away at important junctures. The fact that he has been shuffled up and down the order also hasn't helped his cause. With Virat Kohli back in the side, there's a sense of stability to the top order and Mandeep should make the best use of it.
Shane Watson has looked to be a bleak shadow of this former self. In the previous game, he had struggled with the bat and had not been able to provide the mich-needed acceleration to the RCB lower-middle order. Perhaps in AB's absence, the shift to the top of the order would help the retired Australian all-rounder, as he is used to bat in the top four in the IPL.
Kedar Jadhav has been the newly found finisher for both the Royal Challengers Bangalore as well as the Indian cricket team. However, this season he hasn't been able to create as big an impact as he would have liked, garnering 128 runs from 5 matches. Much like the other RCB batsmen, Jadhav too hasn't played to his full potential, and this vital cog in the lineup has to fire if RCB are to have a chance at winning their remaining matches.
Stuart Binny hasn't been able to display his all-round skills to their full potential. He needs to fire big time so that even if the top order fails, there is someone to revive their innings down the order. Besides, Kohli likes to use him with the new ball and save his prime fast bowlers for the death. Hence, Binny becomes an integral part of the lineup.
Lower middle order
Pawan Negi has been the go-to man for the Royal Challengers in crisis situations and has proved out to be a decent all-rounder. Not only did he dismiss Rishab Pant to win a game for the Challengers against the Daredevils, he also bowled relatively well in the last game, conceding runs at only four runs per over. He is capable of hitting the long ball and could provide quick runs for the visitors.
Adam Milne played his first game of the season against the Supergiant and was decent in terms of his performances. His pace is his main weapon and can hurry the batsmen, especially with the new ball. Given that the Lions have McCullum and Smith at the top of the order, Milne's pace could be the key for the Royal Challengers.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been the star performer for the Challengers this season. His deceptively tricky leg-breaks and googlies have been a nightmare for most batsmen and he has provided his team with much-needed breakthroughs more often than not. He has been used by both Watson and Kohli in the middle overs, especially when there is a partnership to be broken and the leggie has done the job for his captains. He is required to do the same tonight.
Samuel Badree is the new hattrick man for RCB. He exploits with the new ball as well as in the middle overs are well known and the experience that he brings to the table is invaluable. The skiddy nature of his deliveries can be difficult to comprehend for most batsmen and that has been one of the reasons why he has been so successful for RCB.
Sreenath Aravind uses the slower balls to good effect, and can also bowl a good yorker at the death. He did well in the last game and is expected to repeat those performances tonight, in what is supposed to be a must-win game for the franchise.