RCB need to win in order to remain in contention for a spot in the playoffs © BCCI
Points table-wise, not much has changed for Royal Challengers Bangalore from the time they last played a home game on May 1. The last 15 days on the road has seen them bag a 50% success rate in four fixtures, and thus, just about cling on in the playoffs race in what’s turning out to be one of the most tightly-contested seasons of the IPL.
Yet, Virat Kohli & Co. return to their home ground with a feeling that there’s still time to turn the tide. There is an idea of ‘desperation’ that Kohli has conveyed to his squad as even after their first back-to-back wins since IPL 2016, RCB still need two more to even stay in the hunt.
“I suppose we approach it like the last three games. We know the scenario and the only way we can give ourselves that opportunity is having the desperation. I think the way that it appears to me visually is the way Virat bats. He plays unencumbered and he plays aggressive, particularly in that Powerplay. We have seen in the last two games versus Delhi and obviously in the last one versus Kings XI that he is prepared to take bowlers on and take a lot of risks. When he does that, that has a way of flowing through the rest of the team, and particularly with our batting,” RCB head coach Daniel Vettori opined.
As good a ploy as that may be, RCB will also have to be mindful of what they need to do after they secure a flying start. SRH bowlers have been incredibly consistent across all phases of the 20 overs, but have bagged most of their wickets (34 out of 75) in the period between the seventh and the 15th over. RCB got first-hand experience of that when they went from 55 for 1 in 6 overs to 85 for 5 in 12 in Hyderabad just nine days ago.
Even as SRH sit pretty at the top of the table, and have a top-two finish guaranteed, the team is no mood to loosen their metaphorical ties and put their feet up. There appears to be room to give some of their fringe players – including Carlos Brathwaite – a go, but that’s not how the team management seems to be looking at the last two games, which are inconsequential to them as far as their playoffs fate is concerned.
“If you look at any T20 tournament, teams which have a high percentage of wins against losses, have very few turnover with regards to the playing XI. That’s pretty much been the case with us. Apart from a couple of injuries, we have been pretty consistent with our selections and I think it is an important thing to have. We will continue to be consistent in these last few games. Because yes, we want to continue to win and secondly, I think it is important you have the continuity within the playing XI – people understanding what their roles are within the team and they get an opportunity to continue their form,” SRH head coach Tom Moody said, nearly confirming that Brathwaite and the likes are likely to remain on the sidelines.
While result may not make any difference to SRH, there’s a chance to put their high-performing bowling unit to a tough test against the carefree approach of RCB at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, that boasts batsmen-friendly dimensions. Such an outing, irrespective of the outcome it yields, is likely to bode well for Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Co. before they head to Mumbai for the playoffs where they will have to operate on good batting surfaces.
When: Thursday, May 17, 2018
Where: M Chinnaswamy Stadium
What to expect: Mostly cloudy skies with a maximum temperature of 28 degrees.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Brendon McCullum and Washington Sundar were amongst the few players who turned up for the optional nets session on the eve of the game, but he might yet be kept out as Daniel Vettori talked up the balance that the inclusion of Parthiv Patel and Moeen Ali has given RCB. Kohli has often beaten the ‘momentum’ drum, as have many other captains and team managements through the season, leaving any changes to RCB for Thursday’s game nearly out of question.
Probable XI: Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Yusuf Pathan had a hit in the nets but he might still not be rushed back into the side after missing the previous game through soreness. Wriddhiman Saha too has missed the last couple of matches through injury, but batted at the nets. He might yet get a chance to reclaim his spot from Shreevats Goswami before SRH head into the crucial playoffs.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Wriddhiman Saha/Shreevats Goswami, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma
Head to Head of teams
RCB 4 – 7 SRH
SRH have won the last four head-to-head encounters including the final of the 2016 season.
Team record at that particular venue
RCB 3 – 2 SRH
Kohli vs Sandeep: Kohli has got out to Sandeep five times off 33 balls. Kohli has managed to score at a rate of 169.69 against him.
Kohli has scored more runs than anyone else against SRH – 473 runs from 10 innings at 59.13 (4 X 50s; HS 93*) with a SR of 145.09.
Vohra vs Rashid: Among all those who have faced at least five balls from Rashid Khan in IPL, Manan Vohra has the second highest strike rate – 229.41 (39 runs off 17 balls without getting dismissed).
RCB is the only side against whom Bhuvneshwar Kumar has an ER of over eight (8.05). He has taken 12 wickets against them at 32.67 from 13 games with a best of 2/16.
IPL 2018 trends
Umesh Yadav’s 13 wickets in the Powerplay is the most by any bowler this season, five more than the next placed Mitchell McClenaghan. He has an ER of 6.74 in the Powerplay and 9.91 outside it.
SRH has the best ER in each of the three phases – 7.53 in Powerplay, 7.28 in the middle and 8.29 in the death. RCB’s ER of 12.18 is the worst among all the sides in the tournament.
What they said
“If you look at our campaign and the conditions we have played in, I think our bowlers have adapted better than the teams we have played against in those conditions. So, the credit goes to their ability to assess those conditions and exploit those conditions the best.” – SRH head coach Tom Moody on the reason behind the bowlers’ success.
“I think he has been exceptional from day one in that powerplay. We sort of changed his role a little bit to utilize how skillful he is. The ability to swing the ball. He has been such a wicket-taker in the Powerplay.” – RCB head coach Daniel Vettori on Umesh Yadav’s success in the powerplay overs.