Sunday, May 11, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
The last time Royal Challengers Bangalore met Rajasthan Royals, they narrowly avoided beating the record for the lowest total in the IPL.
The chances of a team folding for 70 on the Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch are small but Royal Challengers will need more than the comfort of home conditions to keep their tournament alive. Except for the first two wins in the UAE, they have been unconvincing, a problem magnified by the indifferent form of their batsmen. It is perhaps a fall-out of having built their batting around three top players. With two out of form, and the public struggles of Yuvraj Singh, one of the strongest line-ups on paper has been shaky on the ground.
Their bowling, one of the more settled attacks in the first half of the tournament, has also emerged as a concern. They were alarmingly generous with their lines, conceding 25 extras against Mumbai Indians and then struggled to drag the momentum back against Kings XI Punjab, allowing their batsmen to strike boundaries from the start.
In contrast, the Royals bowling has been far more disciplined and they have stuck to the template of keeping the opposition down to a manageable score while fielding first. The failure to chase a total of 132 would have come as a reality check after four straight wins and they would be keen to shrug the loss off and focus on consolidating their position in the top four.
Form guide (most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LLWLL
Rajasthan Royals: LWWTW
Where they stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Sixth, with three wins from eight games
Rajasthan Royals: Third, with five wins in eight games.
Royal Challengers were shot out for 70 against Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi, losing four of their top five by the third over. Pravin Tambe picked up 4 for 20 but Royals did not put up the most dominant chase, losing four wickets on their way to the 71-run target.
Watch out for
While many consider Yuvraj Singh's lack of form the elephant in the Royal Challengers dressing room, Virat Kohli's failures are likely hurting them more. Before he fell for 0 against Mumbai in Dubai last month, Virat Kohli's last duck in the IPL was in 2008. He has already had three this season and his failures, perhaps, have been made even more significant by the mantle of captaincy.
He's been propelled from the supporting cast of the Kolkata Knight Riders attack to a lead role with Rajasthan Royals and Rajat Bhatia is warming up well to the additional responsibility. With nine wickets in eight games and an economy rate of 7.03, Bhatia has been doing his job of reining in the runs in the middle overs. He's also a handy bat, with 988 runs in 116 T20 games at a strike rate of nearly 119.
Stats and trivia
- Of his 139 IPL innings, Virat Kohli has been dismissed for less than 10 runs only 23 times. He also shares the record for most ducks in this IPL - three - with Gautam Gambhir
- Harshal Patel holds the record for the most expensive figures by a Royal Challengers bowler in the IPL. He gave away 56 in three overs against Kings XI Punjab
- Three - the number of hat-tricks the Royals bowlers have, the most for a team in the IPL
- Ajinkya Rahane is the only Royals batsman to have scored a hundred against Royal Challengers. His ton helped Royals put up their best score of 195 for 2 in Bangalore in IPL 2012.
"It's like a switch. We just have to switch it on and we'll compete again."
Albie Morkel hopes the Royal Challengers batting unit finds its form soon
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo