Bengaluru: It will be a battle of survival for the two national captains as Virat Kohli's struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore square off against a fledgling Pune Supergiants led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni in an IPL encounter for the bottom-rung teams, here on Saturday.
With five defeats in seven games, RCB are currently placed at a lowly seventh spot in the table with four points while Pune are just a notch above in sixth spot courtesy their third win against Delhi Daredevils, yesterday.
It has been a tough journey for the two superstars of Indian cricket as their franchises have dished one disappointing performance after another.
RCB with perhaps the most intimidating batting line-ups has had to taste defeat because of a pedestrian bowling attack that has failed to defend 180 plus scores in most of the matches.
Skipper Kohli, who is in form of his life, is leading the run-getters list with 433 runs to his credit with a century and four 50 plus scores at a whopping average of 72.16. AB de Villiers with 320 runs is also in the Top-10 list but the problem has been their bowling.
Their two best performers Shane Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal with 9 and 5 wickets respectively have an economy rate of 8.60 and 8.89 to show for their efforts.
In fact, none of the RCB bowlers have an economy rate of less than eight runs per over.
It is expected that England seamer Chris Jordan, who put up some exceptionally good performances at the death during the last ICC World T20 will be coming into the playing XI giving Kohli, the respite he needs at the opening and during the death overs.
For Dhoni and his men, they will like to think that the win against Daredevils will boost their morale after four defeats at their home ground in Pune.
Spate of injuries leading to return of Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh has hampered Dhoni's plans but he will get some relief with the joining of Usman Khawaja, who made 30 in his IPL debut. Khawaja and former Australian captain George Bailey can add the filip that the Sanjeev Goenka-owned team desperately needs.
Although Dhoni did not finish the match, his two sixes did go a long way in helping Thisara Perera finish off the match. With the team needing to win each and every match, Dhoni and his boys know very well that they cannot afford any slip ups at this stage of the tournament.
RCB also needs to win almost all games to keep their hopes alive, without depending on other team's performances to qualify when the event nears the business end.
To begin their quest to bounce back, the hosts will be keen to find their foot after they were defeated by two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who rode high on Yusuf Pathan's match-winning half century to record a five-wicket victory, in their den.
RCB would once again be relying heavily on their batsmen, hoping that opener Chris Gayle, skipper Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, KL Rahul and Shane Watson put up a massive total on the board.
More than anyone else, Gayle will be eager to get back into form as he has scored only 8 runs in 3 games so far with the highest score of 7.
Considered easily as the most destructive batsman in this format, the dip in form since the World T20 has not done anything great for the reputation of the 'Big Jamaican', who has been a proven match-winner in this format.
In T20's, it takes a match or specifically one innings for a turnaround. Dhoni and his men will pray that the turnaround at least does not happen against them.
The last time when a Pune Franchise (Pune Warriors) played against RCB at Bangalore, Gayle scored an unbelievable 175 not out, a match that is still fresh in the memory of the cricket afficianados of the 'Garden City'.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), Varun Aaron, Abu Nechi, S Arvind, Samuel Badree, Stuart Binny, Yuzuvendra Chahal, AB De Villiers, Praveen Dubey, Chris Gayle, Travis head, Iqbal Abdulla, Kedar Jadhav, Akshay Karnewar, Sarfraz Khan, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Lokesh Rahul, Parveez Rasool, Kane Richardson, Sachin Baby, Vikas Tokas, Shane Watson, David Wiese, Chris Jordan and Tabraiz Shamsi
Rising Pune Supergiants: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ravichandran Ashwin, George Bailey, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Scott Boland, Deepak Chahar, Ashok Dinda, Peter Handscombe, usman Khawaja, Albie Morkel, Ishwar Pandey, Irfan Pathan, Thisara Perera, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Adam Zampa.