Going into this match, the two teams – Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) – will be in contrasting moods. While RCB are in the top three with 10 points from seven matches in the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL), KXIP are bottom with just two points from the same number of games.
KXIP’s only win so far this season, though, did come against RCB. Before that match, RCB had defeated KXIP in four successive contests since 2018. Overall, Kings XI – with 13 wins in 25 matches – have a slight edge in matches against the Royal Challengers in the IPL.
Overall: Matches – 25 | RCB – 12 Wins | KXIP – 13 Wins
Last 5 Matches: RCB – 4 Wins | KXIP – 1 Win
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
This will be the seventh match of the season at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Teams batting first have had more success so far in IPL 2020 at this ground, winning five out of six matches.
Among the three stadiums hosting matches this season, Sharjah easily has the best stats when it comes to batting, with an average of 31.3 and a run-rate of 9.7. The average first innings total in Sharjah has been 209 which is comfortably more than it is in Dubai (176) and Abu Dhabi (169) as well.
But those numbers don’t tell you the whole story. In the last two matches at this stadium, the track has slowed up and batting hasn’t been as easy as it was earlier. In Tuesday’s match between RCB and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Sharjah, run-scoring was challenging unless your name was AB de Villiers. The short boundaries, though, are still pretty helpful for batting.
What’s also interesting is that wickets have fallen in Sharjah (19.4 balls per dismissal) as frequently as they have in Dubai (19.4) and at a quicker rate than in Abu Dhabi (20.6). So, bowlers could make a big difference here.
In the six matches in Sharjah this season, pacers have taken 53 wickets while spinners have accounted for 17 dismissals. Fast bowlers have a better average (30.2 vs 40.1) and strike rate (18.4 vs 27) at this stadium so far this season as well.
The slower bowlers might have picked up only 24.3% of the wickets at this stadium, but having seen the performances of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal in RCB’s match against KKR, expect spinners to do better here than they did at the start of the tournament. Although mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy did not take a wicket in the RCB-KKR match, he was the Knight Riders’ best bowler.
Mandeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj are slightly risky picks. If you are willing to drop one of the top batters, then you could probably have a more balanced team.
There could be a few interesting match-ups too.
Sheldon Cottrell has done well against Virat Kohli in T20 cricket till date, having dismissed the Indian captain three times in six innings – average of 7.7 with strike rate of 88.5. In the reverse fixture, Cottrell did dismiss Kohli as well. If RCB lose an early wicket, this will be an interesting contest.
Watching AB de Villiers bat this season, you wouldn’t guess that he retired from international cricket more than two years ago. In this match, de Villiers could come up against Mohammed Shami, a bowler against whom he has a superb record in T20 cricket – zero dismissals and a batting strike rate of 192.
Chris Morris has opened the bowling in both of his matches for RCB so far, and if that continues, he will be up against KL Rahul on this occasion. In T20 cricket, the Indian opener has faced the South African allrounder only twice previously. On one of those instances, Morris got the better of Rahul, but the latter has scored at a good rate of 233.3.
Mayank Agarwal is a superb player of spin, but when the two teams met three weeks ago, Yuzvendra Chahal got the better of him. And it wasn’t the first time either – Chahal has now dismissed Mayank thrice from just 29 deliveries in T20 cricket. Despite this, Mayank has maintained a high strike rate of 162.1 against Chahal.
While KL Rahul currently holds the Orange Cap, there is surely some room for improvement in his batting, especially when it comes to strike rate. But in fantasy cricket, runs matter more than anything else and, therefore, Rahul continues to be a great captaincy option. The Kings XI captain has four 50+ scores to his name in seven innings this season and scored an unbeaten 132 against the Royal Challengers in the reverse fixture.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Rahul could score 16-39 runs in this match.
On a pitch that wasn’t ideal for batting, AB de Villiers showed his class with an unbeaten 73 from just 33 deliveries against KKR on Monday. It was his third fifty from seven innings in IPL 2020. The only worry with de Villiers is that he is batting at number four this season and may not get enough deliveries to face at times. But with him keeping wickets as well now, there’s possibly more points to be had from catches, stumpings and run-outs.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts de Villiers could score 14-31 runs in this match.
Two-time IPL-winning captain Gautam Gambhir has gone with de Villiers as his captain. Here's his fantasy team for this match.
While KXIP have had a subpar season so far, Mayank Agarwal is having his best IPL from a batting viewpoint. We’re only halfway through the season and the Kings XI opener has already recorded his highest run-tally in an IPL season. With three 50+ scores from seven innings and an average of 48.1, Mayank certainly seems like a very good option despite there being an array of top-quality batsmen to choose from in this game.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Mayank could score 11-34 runs in this match.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been one of the standout performers for RCB once again this season. In seven innings, he has taken 10 wickets at a strike rate of 16.2 and has won the Player of the Match award twice already. Against KKR, Chahal bowled a fine spell, taking one wicket and conceding just 12 runs from his four overs. If there is a similar pitch for this match, Chahal is likely to be a handful for KXIP’s batsmen.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Chahal could take 1-2 wickets in this match.
(Image Courtesy - BCCI)