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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
April 26, 2013
Match factsApril 27, 2013
Halfway through the tournament, Royal Challengers Bangalore are in pole position, tied on points with Chennai Super Kings but ahead on net run rate. They have played a huge chunk of their home games in a cluster, and made the most of familiar conditions and vociferous support, winning six out of six at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Their two losses have been away games.
For their next six matches, starting with Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, Royal Challengers will be traveling the country. Away from the comfort of their surroundings, their consistency will be put to test. Royal Challengers should guard against peaking too early, and their coach Ray Jennings said their early success will count for nothing if they lose focus in their second round of games. A pleasing aspect for Royal Challengers is that their two leading wicket-takers are Indians, Vinay Kumar and RP Singh.
Mumbai Indians are a better team on paper than their position in the points table - No. 6 - suggests. They sprung a surprise when Ricky Ponting opted out of the previous match and handed over the captaincy to Rohit Sharma. Mumbai scrambled to a five-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens, and with their next six games at home they have a chance to get back into the top four. What remains to be seen is whether Ponting returns.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Players to watchAll bowlers v Gayle - How does one keep Chris Gayle quiet? Among the Pune Warriors bowlers who got slaughtered in Bangalore, only Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Luke Wright finished with economy rates of less than seven. Length deliveries were duly hammered and the bowlers were guilty of bowling far too many deliveries on the middle and leg line. Fast yorkers are an option and Mumbai have one such bowler who could crack the Gayle puzzle. Malinga v Gayle will be the contest to watch.
Dwayne Smith replaced Ponting as opener two matches ago, and though Smith failed against Delhi Daredevils, he made it count with a match-winning 62 against Knight Riders in the next game. With Ponting struggling for runs, Smith could make the opening position his own going forward.
Stats and trivia
"I would like to ignore what has happened in first eight."
Royal Challengers coach Ray Jennings is not getting carried away with his team's success.
"It was his decision to opt out, and it takes a lot of heart and guts to do that."
Rohit Sharma on Ponting's decision to sit out the last match, despite being the captain
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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