Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013, 13:55
Bangalore: After a clinical win against Rajasthan Royals, table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore will be keen to continue their fantastic run when they lock horns with the beleaguered Pune Warriors in the Pepsi IPL here on Tuesday.
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Royal Challengers are on a roll after winning five matches they have played at home this season and would not want to fritter away their best chance to gain two more vital points before they play their next six games away.
The games would be a difficult proposition, considering they have lost both their away games against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings.
Unlike the previous IPL seasons, the Royal Challengers have managed to get rid of the tag of being over-dependent on explosive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle, who has 257 runs under his belt in seven matches with an unbeaten 92 being his highest score this season.
The home side has been fantastic even in case of a flopshow by Gayle, who also has to his credit 17 sixes and 22 boundaries.
Either their captain Virat Kohli or aggressive South African wicketkeeper batsman AB de Villiers have come to the party erasing the Gayle-dependent tag.
Unlike last year when he struggled to get runs, Kohli has been in great form and is already the Orange Cap holder for smashing 322 runs in seven games with three scintillating half centuries to his credit.
De Villiers has been the perfect foil to Gayle and Kohli, playing second fiddle to both in-form batsmen.
It may appear that the Indian players have not contributed enough for the Royal Challengers but they haven`t got enough chances to display their class.
However, Mayank Agarwal, Lokesh Rahul and Arun Karthik, all of who have had their chances, have spilled them, making way for Tillakaratne Dilshan to stage a comeback.
Dilshan did not disappoint the team by crafting a match-winning 53-run partnership with Gayle for the first wicket in the previous game against Rajasthan.
Nevertheless, the young Indian players would like to strike form if given a chance again, depending on the pitch and playing conditions.
As far as Royal Challengers` bowling is concerned, after a couple of hiccups against Hyderabad and Chennai, they have delivered fine performances.
Their effort in the last game against Rajasthan Royals was exceptional as they did not concede any extras.
Vinay Kumar and Ravi Rampaul have been outstanding, especially in the absence of bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan.
They have taken up the responsibility to provide wickets for Royal Challengers at crucial stages and there are no surprises that the former has bagged the Purple Cap with 12 scalps to his credit.
With Royal Challengers registering a clinical win in their last encounter, it is unlikely that Kohli would make any changes to the side unless their are some injury issues.
In contrast, batting problems have plagued Pune Warriors who were handed a defeat by Kings XI Punjab in their last match.
Their top guns -- Yuvraj Singh Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Angelo Mathews and Marlon Samuels -- haven`t been consistent. The exception has been Aaron Finch who has scored an aggregate of 211 runs in five matches with three half centuries under his belt.
Pune have already broken an 11-match losing streak but the Angelo Mathews-led side has put up ordinary performances barring a couple of matches, which they won against Rajasthan and CSK.
On the bowling front, Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma has been the pick of Warriors` attack and has got good support from Mathews, though Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar need to do better.
The Teams (From):
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mayank Agarwal, Muttiah Muralitharan, R P Singh, Lokesh Rahul, Vinay Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jaydev Unadkat, Ravi Rampaul, K P Appanna, Sreenath Aravind, Arun Karthik, Daniel Vettori, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Moises Henriques, Sheldon Jackson, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Andrew McDonald, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, Harshal Patel, Sandeep Warrier, Sunny Sohal, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary, Vijay Zol.
Pune Warriors: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Yuvraj Singh, Abhishek Nayar, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Ajanta Mendis, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, R Gomez, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell.
First Published: Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:37
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