The Royal Challenger Bangalore, in desperation central, will need their superstar players – Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle – to be at their absolute best against the Gujarat Lions in IPL 2017 Match 31.
There will also be a few prayers going around Bengaluru for the rain Gods to stay away on Thursday, after RCB's last match at home, a couple of days back, was abandoned due to wet weather.
What RCB cannot afford right now is another home game being called off by rain. They need to build some momentum and build it by winning a match, ideally comprehensively, at home.
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To do that, the best option might be to just go with their strongest possible attacking playing XI, without worrying too much about team balance and if the conditions suits X, Y or Z.
Ask Gayle to open the innings with Kohli and not to worry about losing your wicket early. Gayle is at his best when he looks to go into six-town from ball one; when he decides to take time before launching into attack-mode, he, quite often, ends up losing his wicket, having eaten up too many deliveries.
AB De Villiers and Kohli are big-game players, so RCB will rely on these two to get them to a big score or over the line, allowing Gayle to bat completely freely. It also helps that Gayle's highest score this season came against the Gujarat Lions.
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If Gayle joins De Villiers as two overseas options, RCB are likely to go with two international bowlers to fill the other two slots – Samuel Badree and Tymal Mills.
Badree picked up a hat-trick in IPL 2017 at the Chinnaswamy, and RCB will want the West Indian to make a similar impact, while it is about time Mills had one of those games, where he ends up being unplayable and bamboozles and befuddles the batsmen with his changes of pace.
The Gujarat Lions have lost Dwayne Bravo for the season, with Irfan Pathan being named as the West Indian's replacement. Pathan went unsold during the IPL 2017 auction, but will hope he makes a statement, if and when he does get an opportunity to perform in the GL playing XI.
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Considering he has just been picked, it is unlikely that Pathan will walk straight into the team, although there is an opening there in the lower middle order, with the likes of Akshdeep Nath and Ishan Kishan given a go this season.
Kishan didn't play the last game and could come in for Akshdeep, while the Gujarat Lions might consider making a change in the bowling lineup as well.
The leg-spinner Shubham Agarwal went for 42 runs in his four over against the Kings XI Punjab, but he did pick up a wicket. With the pitch being slow in Bengaluru, sticking with the spinner might not be a bad option, although Praveen Kumar or Dhawal Kulkarni could come in.
The Gujarat Lions might also consider giving Dwayne Smith a break, with the former CSK man not at his best in IPL 2017. He has gone for plenty with the ball – hard to understand why Suresh Raina keeps giving Smith an over or two – while he has scored just 94 runs with the bat this season, albeit while batting down the order quite often.
Jason Roy is a destructive opener and his ability to find the boundaries at the top could help on a pitch that becomes really difficult to score off when the ball becomes older.
The other option would be to drop either Smith or Aaron Finch and play the all-rounder James Faulkner, whose changes of pace with the ball will come in handy at the Chinnaswamy.
Expected playing XI:
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (C), AB De Villiers, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi, Tymal Mills, Samuel Badree, S Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Gujarat Lions: Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan, James Faulkner, Andrew Tye, Basil Thampi, Shubham Agarwal, Nathu Singh.