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Bruised Royals eye redemption against buoyant Bangalore

Last updated on 22 Apr 2023 | 10:12 AM
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Bruised Royals eye redemption against buoyant Bangalore

The Sanju Samson-led outfit squandered a winning foundation in their last clash against Lucknow to go down by 10 runs

Six matches into their season, Royal Challengers Bangalore have secured three wins.

However, it could so easily have been five in six for the Faf du Plessis-led side who came agonisingly close to winning at least in two of their three defeats. 

While they were dominant in the last clash against Punjab Kings and recorded a 24-run win away from home, they will be wary of their opponents Rajasthan, who were bruised in their own backyard by Lucknow. 

Rajasthan Royals have been the most dominant team in the tournament thus far, with different people standing up and shouldering the responsibility of the side, but the last game in Jaipur was a tad different as the Royals squandered a solid 87-run foundation laid by Jos Buttler and Yashavai Jaiswal in a modest run chase of 155 runs. 

Sanju Samson and his side went down by 10 runs, and their second defeat in six matches stunned not only the team management but also fans across the globe. 

The Royals are leading the points table and will be itching to make amends for their sluggish batting in this high-voltage clash against Bangalore in Garden City. 

As Chinnaswamy braces for the Battle of the Royals on a sultry afternoon, here are some of the critical factors that could decide the outcome of the game. 

Things to watch out for

Bangalore's new ball attack vs Royal's opening combination

One of the reasons for the success of the Royals in the tournament has been the formidable opening combination of Buttler and Jaiswal. 

With 244 runs and 180 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 147 and 142.9 respectively, the duo have ensured that the team has got off to a flying start in the powerplay on most occasions. 

While the openers have been brutal for the Royals, they will be up for a stern test against a rampant Royal Challengers Bangalore attack led by Mohammed Siraj

The right-arm pacer is known to wreak havoc early in the innings with the new ball and is currently the leading wicket-taker with 12 wickets at an average of 13.4 and an economy rate of 6.7 runs per over. 

In six innings, Bangalore have scalped 17 wickets at balls per wicket ratio of 12.7, which is the best among all the ten teams, with Siraj doing most of the damage. 

The 29-year-old will step onto the field riding high on confidence after his four-wicket haul in the last game and aim to dismantle this solid opening combination early. 

Rajasthan's number three conundrum 

While the Royals have a well-rounded squad with most of their bases covered, the only chink in their armour is the number three position, which has proven to be a headache for the team management. 

The Royals have opted to use Devdutt Padikkal and Sanju Samson as their options depending on the left-hand-right-hand combination but have failed to zero down on a solid batter to complement the start from the openers. 

While the skipper has produced some match-winning performances at number four and kept the scoreboard ticking with his flamboyant style of play, the same cannot be said about the southpaw. 

The 22-year-old has scored 113 runs in five innings at an average of 22.6 and a strike rate of 109.7, which is the second-worst among batters with a minimum of 50 runs this season. 

ALSO READ: Devdutt Padikkal at RR — square peg in a round hole

There ain't any doubt that there is abundant talent in the youngster, and the Royals would hope he can be at his absolute best at a venue where he has played all his domestic cricket. 

Onus on Harshal Patel to find his rhythm 

The most dependable bowler for the home team in the last couple of seasons, Harshal Patel has struggled to get going in this tournament and has been guilty of leaking runs across phases. 

The right-arm pacer has managed seven wickets in six innings at an average of 31.3 and an economy rate of 10.1 runs per over, which is the third-worst among bowlers with a minimum of 15 overs in the competition. 

With Siraj firing all guns blazing and Wanindu Hasaranga weaving his magic in the middle overs, the team management would need the experience of Harshal in the back end of the innings to stem the full of runs and dent the opposition with vital breakthroughs. 

Pitch & conditions

Over the years, Chinnswamy has been known to produce some high-scoring encounters, and this game will not be any different. The average first-innings score at this venue in the eight innings played thus far is around 188 runs, and the average winning total is around the 200-run mark. 

It is a ground where the boundaries are on the shorter side, and it will not be surprising if we witness a high-scoring thriller between two formidable batting units on a belter of a wicket. 

In this season, the fast bowlers have reaped massive dividends as out of the 48 wickets to fall in four games, the pacers have scalped 34, which is around 71% compared to 14 dismissals by the spinners. 

With the likes of Trent Boult, Mohammed Siraj and Sandeep Sharma in the ranks, expect the pacers from both outfits to enjoy the conditions with the new ball before the batters dominate the rest of the innings. 

Tactical nous

Virat Kohli's struggle against Sandeep Sharma

Rajasthan Royals have been bolstered by the arrival of Sandeep Sharma as an injury replacement for Prasidh Krishna ahead of the league. The right-arm pacer is known to swing the ball early in the innings and nail his yorkers at the death. 

Well, ask Virat Kohli, who has struggled against the 29-year-old in the IPL and has an average of 11.1 with seven dismissals, the most for him against a bowler in the IPL.

With Sandeep set to open the bowling alongside Boult, this could be an exciting battle between two skilful players early in the innings. 

Can Hasaranga tackle Buttler?

Jos Buttler will be the crucial player for the Rajasthan Royals heading into this encounter. He is the leading run-scorer for the team in the tournament and will aim to lay a solid foundation for the visiting side. 

However, he will be up against the leg-spin of Hasaranga in the opposition camp, a bowling type he has struggled with in the past. The right-handed batter has an average of 28.9 and has been dismissed on 11 occasions, the worst for him against the bowling skill set. 

Team combination

After recording a comfortable win against the Punjab Kings in their own den, expect the Royal Challengers to field an unchanged XI. If Faf du Plessis is fit, he will walk in to lead the side. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (Captain), Faf du Plessis, Mahipal Lomror, Glenn Maxwell, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Wanindu Hasaranga, Suyash Prabhudessai, Harshal Patel, Wayne Parnell, Mohammed Siraj 

Despite their narrow defeat in Jaipur, Rajasthan Royals are also expected to back the same group to get the job in Bangalore.

Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (Captain and wk), Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Dhruv Jurel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jason Holder, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal

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