Can Royals halt Royal Challengers' home streak?
Match factsApril 20, 2013
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
A joke doing rounds in social media is that Royal Challengers Bangalore fans have no finger nails left. Four of their six games have gone to the final over, including two Super Over finishes. While it's all fine for the viewers, it's not the healthiest trend from the team's point of view. Royal Challengers are a spot behind second-placed Rajasthan Royals, their next opponents, but their journey so far has been a bit too dramatic for their own good. They made heavy weather of their chase of 153 against Delhi Daredevils when they were cruising with 24 needed at a run-a-ball with seven wickets in hand (with no help from Chris Gayle). Though Royal Challengers passed the finish line after the Super Over, captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were humble enough to admit that they needed to learn to close out games better.
Royal Challengers are yet to settle on a consistent opening combination. So far, Gayle has opened with Tillakaratne Dilshan, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. With Dilshan back in the mix after recovering from injury, they will have to let go of another overseas player, possibly Andrew McDonald, to get him in. Saurabh Tiwary, the left-handed batsman, is also back from injury, to widen their options.
Royals on the other hand are fresh from thumping Mumbai Indians, reducing a fancied batting order to 92 in one of the most one-sided games of the tournament so far. After piling on 179, Royals made Mumbai struggle early by getting the spinners on and taking the pace off the ball. At 10 for 2 in the chase, the game was all but over. Rahul Dravid, the Royals captain, said the team's positive energy made the difference. In Bangalore, they will be up against a team that's yet to lose a home game this season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore WLWWL
Rajasthan Royals WWLWW
Players to watch
Virat Kohli was named the Royal Challengers captain this season and the additional responsibility hasn't had any negative effects on his batting, as he currently holds the Orange Cap (leading run-scorer) with 321 runs. Just as compelling as his batting is his on-field body language, which has added more spice to the tournament; his verbal face-off with Gautam Gambhir topped it all. Kohli never holds back his emotions, be it swinging his bat at thin air when dismissed, or refusing to take his pads off while sitting at the dugout. Whether it can be deemed as acceptable behaviour from a person of authority is another debate - Kohli gets fans talking, one way or another.
Ajinkya Rahane has shown that he can bat in two gears when needed. Against Kings XI Punjab, on a seaming pitch, he took on the responsibility of batting through the innings, remaining unbeaten on 34 off 42 balls in his team's successful chase of a small target. It was not the most entertaining knock, but given the conditions, it was the best knock of the evening. Against Mumbai, in a relatively pressure-free scenario, he batted through the innings and remained unbeaten on 68 off 54 balls. Two contrasting knocks, both matchwinning ones. Royal Challengers will be reminded of the century he scored against them last year when the teams met at Chinnaswamy.
Stats and trivia
- Shane Watson needs two more sixes to become the leading six-hitter for Royals. He is currently on 60, behind Yusuf Pathan (now with Kolkata Knight Riders).
- Royal Challengers lead the head-to-head record with five wins, while Royals have four.
"I specifically told the management that I wanted Ravi in the side because he can be deadly with the bat too."
Virat Kohli on Ravi Rampaul's selection, ahead of players like Murali
"We don't have big names in our side, we don't have guys who can demolish teams in T20 cricket, but we are a unit that is very balanced."
Rajasthan Royals allrounder Stuart Binny
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo