New Delhi: A crucial battle for either of the franchises, as one abysmal bit could put a halt to their march forward in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign. It is Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) going head-to-head against The Gujarat Lions (GL) at M Chinnaswamy Stadium tonight.
A rain-clad evening on Tuesday ruined RCB’s chance at redemption at Bengaluru after their disappointing outing at Kolkata, where they were scrambled to the lowest ever IPL total of 49 all out. Although, with the match being called off, both the teams — Bengaluru and Hyderabad — received a point each with the former improving from last to sixth on the table, but with a fierce second half of the tournament already underway, things might look even more awry for Virat Kohli’s team.
With bowling looking perfectly alright for the southerners, it’s the batting that’s more of a concern for the team. The 'Big Three' have failed to showcase their fireworks this season, something which the fans haven’t forgotten, something they still haven’t stopped expecting.
It's more of a same story for the Lions, who also will be aiming to grab the much needed two points to survive the fierce battle ahead in the league. Despite a strong batting line-up, the bowling unit has failed to strike the right chord and thus a consistency in the team's downfall. Even the return of star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja failed to inspire the team.
In a nutshell, it is a battle between the presently dormant Bengaluru batting line-up against the dismal bowling unit of Gujarat. However, all eyes will be on the Bengaluru skies which has been rather fair since Tuesday evening.
Here are the players to look out for…
Irfan Pathan: Fans were shocked to see Pathan going unsold at the auction, but he didn't loose hope and went back to the nets to hone his skills. Then, things worked out for the 32-year-old. With the Lions all-rounder Dwayne Bravo pulling out owing to worsening of his hamstring injury, Gujarat called forth Pathan, hoping that he can continue with his good form which he showed in the domestic season, and save their drowning ship. Although he failed to shine with his all-round performance last season with Rising Pune Supergiant, the Baroda-based cricketer is keen to change things and put it right on track.
Brendon McCullum: There are a lot of things that will be working in favour of the New Zealand legend. First, tonight's game will be McCullum's 100th IPL match and he, hopefully, will make it a special one. Also, RCB was the team against which Baz had notched up a brilliant 72 off 44 deliveries, albeit in a losing cause. Apart from the hopes and desires, what has been truly phenomenal from the 35-year-old is his fielding. Those high-kick jumps to take catches near the rope and astounding dives to save the fours have surely been the delights for all cricket fans.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli: The Indian skipper did return back strong to support his team through, after Bengaluru faltered during the initial games. But he too stumbled along like his team. And after the golden duck at Eden Gardens, thirst for redemption must be burning inside him. Not to forget, he was the Orange Cap holder last season with 973 runs. So much more can be expected when the captain.
Yuzvendra Chahal: With the bowling unit being the only area where the Bengaluru-based team has managed to impress, Chahal leads the line with 10 wickets in eight games he has played so far. His competitiveness along with variations makes him a formidable spinner according to head coach Daniel Vettori, but what makes the 26-year-old a threat is his ability to play with batsmen's minds, even before releasing the ball.