Can Rajasthan overcome Gayle and de Villiers?
Match factsMonday, April 23, Jaipur
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big pictureA week ago, Rajasthan Royals played Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chinnaswamy Stadium as underdogs, but Ajinkya Rahane's century and Siddharth Trivedi's four wickets gave them an easy 59-run victory. Most things have remained unchanged since then. Royals' batting has consistently fired to give them a chance in every game while Royal Challengers' bowling has struggled to stem the flow of runs. Virat Kohli's indifferent form in this IPL has fetched him just 113 runs, putting extra pressure on Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.
One thing has changed in the last week though - Gayle storms have become frequent. His last two innings have been 81 and 87 and have included 12 sixes. Royals would be wary of Gayle but if they can get past him, their task becomes considerably easier.
Jaipur has been a fortress for the Royals and Rahul Dravid would hope for a strong batting performance again. Brad Hodge, second on the leading Twenty20 run-scorer list, hasn't had many chances as the top order has been consistent. But he can be a dangerous batsman in this format and there is a case for him to come ahead of Ashok Menaria.
Rajasthan Royals LWWLL
Royal Challengers Bangalore WWLLL
Players to watchKevon Cooper is Royals' leading wicket taker this season with ten wickets. With the kind of luck that he has enjoyed, Dravid might want to pit him against Gayle early.
AB de Villiers has scored a few boundaries and sixes in the reverse 'V'. By his own admission, he has struggled to hit the ball in front of the wicket and therefore, has cleverly used the pace of the bowlers. Royal Challengers' would hope him he fires again as he is one of the two in-form batsmen.
Stats and trivia
- Royals have scored their runs at 8.56 per over, the best this season. Royal Challengers are next with 8.15
- For batsmen who have scored more than 100 runs in the tournament, Hodge has the second best strike rate of 157.31, only 0.38 behind Gayle
Quotes"Probably, we have been playing well till three-quarters of the past few editions to keep ourselves in the hunt but have slipped in the last quarter."
Amit Singh, Royals' medium pacer, says the team needs to maintain consistency
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.