Bangalore's batting v Warriors' bowling
Match factsRoyal Challengers Bangalore v Warriors, September 23
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Royal Challengers Bangalore have a trend to break: they have played the opening games of two IPLs and one Champions League at home and ended up losing all three. They are among the favourites for the tournament, but are up against a side their coach rates highly - South Africa's Warriors, who were the losing finalists last year.
It's likely to be a straight fight between Bangalore's batting might and Warriors' bowling strength. Bangalore have several of the most dangerous overseas Twenty20 batsmen in their line-up, as well as Virat Kohli, who has shown over the past couple of seasons that he can crack the game's shortest format, and Saurabh Tiwary, who made his name in the 2010 IPL with batting that was unattractive but extremely effective.
Ranged against this is the bowling of Warriors. Johan Botha, with his pushed-through offspinners, and the hugely experienced Nicky Boje form the spin department, while the pace attack is filled with players on the fringe of the South African side and a 101-Test stalwart in Makhaya Ntini.
One of the big worries for Warriors is that the man who was instrumental in their march to the finals last year, former captain Davy Jacobs, isn't with them this time around, having chosen to play for the Mumbai Indians. Botha insisted the team could thrive without Jacobs, who repeatedly provided explosive starts in the 2010 campaign.
"We've known now [that Jacobs won't be with Warriors] for a few months and we've got over it as a team," Botha said. "Davy did do well in the CL, but after that he was injured quite a few times, and then in our local Twenty20 he had an up and down season, we've got young guys who can cover him." Strong words but at the Pro20 this year, almost all their batsmen struck at a rate below 120, not nearly enough. Can they find a batsman who can turn the game around with a sustained burst of big-hitting?
Watch out for …
His international career may be mired in litigation, but Chris Gayle's career as a Twenty20 freelancer is going great guns. He was the most arresting presence in the IPL: smashing a league-leading 608 runs at a strike-rate of 183.13. He also chipped in with his flat offspinners, taking eight wickets at the miserly economy-rate of 6.77.
Can Johan Botha be the inspirational captain Jacobs was in the previous season? He has shown himself to be a shrewd leader when he got the chance with South Africa. He is also a successful limited-overs bowler, and also made runs when surprisingly pushed up to No. 3 by Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
While most of the Bangalore squad have been training since the weekend at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli joined the squad on Thursday morning. They have five world-class players in their team. As captain, Daniel Vettori is an automatic pick; as the man who turbo-charged their IPL campaign, Gayle should start; in the absence of Zaheer Khan, Dirk Nannes should also be in the XI. And in a squad bereft of other wicketkeepers, AB de Villiers should get the nod ahead of Dilshan.
In the absence of Jacobs, Warriors will likely open with Ashwell Prince and 23-year-old JJ Smuts. The big question for the management will be choosing the fast bowlers: Ntini was their most successful bowler in the Pro20, Justin Kreusch was their most economical bowler in the Pro20, Rusty Theron is their death overs specialist, and they have two other quicks with international experience in Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Stats and trivia
- Warriors made only one of the 16 highest totals in the Pro20 this season
- With 70 sixes, Gayle is fourth on the list of most sixes hit in the IPL, though he has played less than half the number of matches of the top three
- Bangalore will become the only team to have played all three seasons of the Champions League
"At St George's Park, we get a nice vibe but we only get 15-20,000 people at capacity. The noise level here [at the Chinnaswamy Stadium] will be different for some of the guys who are experiencing it for the first time."
Ashwell Prince says some of the younger members of the side will have to adapt quickly to playing in front of bigger crowds
"My pace has always been my strength. I'm not thinking of slowing down, perhaps speeding up if anything."
Even at 35, Dirk Nannes wants to remain a tearaway quick
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo