Royal Challengers Bangalore continue their strenuous season with a home game against the bottom of the table, Gujarat Lions, at their home ground, M. Chinnaswamy stadium. The Bengaluru-based franchise haven’t had a good season thus far and it got worse when they were bowled out for the lowest ever IPL score by Kolkata Knight Riders on a zippy pitch.
A washout against Sunrisers Hyderabad couple of days ago did not help their cause to fight for a playoff spot. While they are set to play Gujarat at the same venue, they will hope to take to the pitch. It was against the Lions that Challengers displayed their batting prowess last season with de Villiers and Kohli both slamming hundreds in a total of 248. While that is a thing of the past, the Lions bowling has been least impressive this season and the RCB duo will be hungry for runs at a venue where they generally score quite a few.
Here we take a look at five win themes for both sides.
#1 With the bat
RCB will depend on a great start from Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle. The West Indian is slowly regaining some lost touch and on a Bangalore strip, should return to his dangerous best. Kohli, on the other hand, was furious with his dismissal in Kolkata and will be itching to make runs.
De Villiers lurks behind the opening duo and poses even bigger challenges for Gujarat. With Jadhav, Mandeep and Binny to follow, RCB pack a punch in the batting department. The poor memories of being bundled out for 49 should be well past them as they take on Gujarat.
Gujarat Lions are lucky to have an in-form Brendon McCullum this season. Aaron Finch hasn't quite clicked but can go wild if he gets going. Against a weaker bowling attack like RCB, Finch should fancy his chances. Raina is in good form too and will be helped by the fact that all three of the Bangalore spinners turn the ball into him. The only way Gujarat can challenge the RCB batsmen is by putting up enough and more runs on the board.
#2 With the ball
Royal Challengers Bangalore will need a foolproof plan against Raina and co. with the ball. What helps them is the fact that Gujarat have very few good players who can face spin rather well.
In Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi and Samuel Badree, RCB have three spinners capable of attacking the batsmen. The pace variation of Tymal Mills and the consistency of Sreenath Aravind will go a long way in containing a powerful top order.
Gujarat have a weak bowling line-up that has been severely punished by several teams this IPL. Their spinners have been taken to the cleaners and the fast bowlers haven't delivered consistently.
The inclusion of Nathu Singh and Andrew Tye's return has bolstered the attack. But the task in hand is huge bearing in mind that they have to restrict the likes of Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will have a perfect plan in place for the Gujarat batsmen. Against McCullum, Smith and Finch, they have two leg-spinners who understand their game pretty well. The three foreign players are all extremely good T20 players but not the best when it comes to handling leggies.
Raina has a distinct advantage against the RCB spinners but the hosts will likely deploy Mills against the Southpaw.
Gujarat Lions need to move a level up with their bowling to compete with the RCB batsmen. They saw the manner in which Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Woakes caused the damage in Kolkata.
The outside off-stump line will be bombarded with against Kohli while against Gayle, Raina might consider bringing himself on. De Villiers is the tough one but having Jadeja at their disposal should help the Lions. The left-arm spinner has had success against the South African in the past and will be depended upon to provide the all important wicket.
It would be tempting to go with Samuel Badree or Tymal Mills as the X-factor for RCB. But in reality, that title should go to Kedar Jadhav. The diminutive wicket-keeper batsman walks in after the electrifying top three and is a more or less a complete batsman himself.
RCB's biggest advantage this season is they have Jadhav after the top three. It virtually means that there is little respite for the bowlers, especially an attack as limited as Gujarat Lions.
The X-factor for Gujarat Lions would be Andrew Tye. The Australian bowler has impressed with his many variations in the powerplay and death overs and could be the main weapon that Raina will use against a strong Bangalore batting.
Tye possesses a cunning yorker and a smart slow ball, making him a difficult proposition to deal with at the death. With Basil Thampi also capable of bowling toe-crushing yorkers, RCB will have their task cut out in the death.
As potent as Royal Challengers Bangalore are with the bat, their bowling hasn't quite come together yet. Tymal Mills has struggled for consistency while Chahal and Badree offer a similar kind of approach. Negi isn't very dependable with the ball while Aravind hasn't generated enough swing or pace to confuse the batsmen.
All in all, against McCullum and co. Bangalore will have to over rely on the two leggies at their disposal. If that plan fails, do they really have a plan B in place?
Gujarat Lions might have a few chinks in their bowling but that has been somewhat covered up with the smart bowling of Tye and Thampi at the death.
Their major issue might be that their three top-order foreign batsmen are all poor players of leg-spin. RCB have two at their disposal and knowing that there are just two lefties in the top six isn't quite good news for the Lions line-up.