RCB set sights on playoffs spot as Punjab challenge awaits
With the fate of the play-offs still a proverbial mile from being decided, the Challengers have arrived at the doorstep of their latest assignment as they lock horns with the Punjab Kings in a heated second chapter of the rivalry. The first time these two teams met in 2022 was in the respective opener for both the sides and Punjab Kings walked away with the bragging rights in the dying embers of the game.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are currently stationed in the fourth position of the points table with 7 wins from 12 games. They will be raring to seal this tie as it would almost secure a play-off spot for them but given the unpredictable side that Punjab is, the Challengers will have to keep all their bases covered. They will be coming to this fixture riding high on confidence, on the back of consecutive wins against the Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
For Punjab, there have been occasions where the team has collapsed faster than a house caught in the eye of the storm while there have been instances where the batters of the side have conjured devastating totals to leave their oppositions reeling in a blue funk. The last game saw them posting 189 on the cards but the Royals had the last laugh as Punjab’s bowlers lost steam towards the end.
This will be an interesting contest, considering the different units that the opposing sides show strength in. For Punjab, it’s a fireball scorching everything along its way while for the Challengers, for every problem, they have a nuanced and calculated approach.
The surface at Brabourne has a decent dab of green that would allow the fast bowlers to get some early movement in the first innings. However, as the game progresses, it would be the batters who would eventually come on top. There will be some turn for the spinners, considering the presence of grass on the surface. A total of 170 should be deemed as a fighting contest with the team chasing will have to dig deep if they are to surpass the total. The last game at Brabourne witnessed Mumbai defending 177 comfortably against the Gujarat Titans, even though it was an extremely close shave.
Battles to watch out for:
Faf du Plessis vs Liam Livingstone: The RCB captain produced a gem of a knock against the Sunrisers as he spearheaded the charge from the front. He is also RCB’s highest scorer for the season. As the hunt for the play-offs intensifies, it would be important for the Challengers that he stands up and delivers. Liam Livingstone has blown hot and cold for the Kings but on the days where he found his stride, the bowlers had a forgettable outing.
Dinesh Karthik vs Mayank Agarwal: The wicket-keeper batter has been in sublime shape as he has turned the season on its head with a handful of imperious displays and that too coming out to bat at number five or six. More importantly, he has played the role of the perfect finisher, showing the path for RCB from almost ineluctable situations. Mayank Agarwal has found it tough to get going with the same momentum in 2022 that he managed to garner in the last couple of seasons. However, it is needless to say that if he manages to get his eyes in, bowlers won’t last in front of his rampage.
Josh Hazlewood vs Kagiso Rabada: Hazlewood’s numbers aren’t as extravagant as you would want them to be because he joined the party late. However, ever since his debut in RCB colors, he has been an asset to the Challengers, especially with his tight bowling in the death overs, squeezing the run-flow of the opposition. Kagiso Rabada had a hard start to the campaign but has finally got his form back with a solid display in the last few games. He is a wicket-taker and the kind of variations that he brings into the game along with the menacing pace can change a lot of equations.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Faf du Plessis, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Josh Hazlewood, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Behrendorff, Suyash Prabhudesai, Chama Milind, Aneeshwar Gautam, Karn Sharma, David Willey, Rajat Patidar, Siddharth Kaul.
Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Odean Smith, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Sandeep Sharma, Atharva Taide, Vaibhav Arora, Ansh Patel, Raj Angad Bawa, Benny Howell, Rishi Dhawan, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (wk), Baltej Singh, Writtick Chatterjee, Nathan Ellis, Prerak Mankad.
Punjab Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Venue: Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
Date: 13th May 2022
Time: 7:30 PM IST