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The Preview by Anuj Vignesh
April 14, 2014
Agarkar: Chance for Yuvraj to prove detractors wrong
Likely first XI1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 Parthiv Patel (wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Vijay Zol, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Shadab Jakati/Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Varun Aaron, 11 Ashok Dinda
2013 finishFifth, for the second year running. They were runners-up in 2009 and 2011.
Big PictureRoyal Challengers Bangalore will enter IPL 7 having in their ranks two of the most talked-about Indian players from the last couple of weeks - that is, talked about for completely different reasons.
On one hand, there is Virat Kohli, arguably the in-from batsman in international cricket. The force behind India's charge to the World T20 final, collecting a tournament record 319 runs with four fifties from six matches at 106.33. The team's watchful protector and Dark Knight.
And then there is Yuvraj Singh, painted - perhaps unfairly - as the villain for sucking the momentum out of India's innings in the final with a laboured knock of 11.
What will worry the Royal Challengers fans more than the Rs 14 crore (US$ 2.33 million) it cost the franchise to secure Yuvraj's services, is just how lost the allrounder looked not only during his 21-ball struggle in Mirpur, but also in a majority of his innings since returning to the Indian fold last year.
Still, while an on-song Yuvraj will be more than welcome, his form with the bat should not hurt the Royal Challengers too much, as they boast perhaps the most explosive line-up in the tournament, with the added experience of Albie Morkel to provide a late surge down the order.
Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling. Australia's Mitchell Starc and West Indies' Ravi Rampaul are quality performers but only one of the overseas slots is likely to be available for the two of them. The Indian quick bowlers inspire lesser confidence: Ashok Dinda leaked 9.48 runs per over last season, Varun Aaron is yet to combine precision to his undoubted pace, while Abu Nechim and Harshal Patel are yet to prove themselves in the IPL.
Big playersChris Gayle may not have set the World T20 on fire, perhaps being remembered only for his ferocious rendition of Gangnam Style after beating Australia, but his IPL pedigree is never in question. Pune Warriors will attest to that.
A 28-ball 69 against England aside, AB de Villiers also had a quiet outing in Bangladesh. However, he has been outstanding as a finisher for Royal Challengers. With Morkel also in the team, de Villiers might be pushed up the order this year to provide an early onslaught.
Bargain buyLegspinner Yuzvendra Chahal has a career economy rate of 5.59 in Twenty20 cricket, which is among the best in the world. He was with Mumbai Indians since 2011, contributing to their 2011 Champions League win with an incisive spell of 2 for 9 in the final, but the presence of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in the team meant that his appearances for the franchise were limited. Bought for a modest (by IPL standards) Rs 10 lakh, Chahal could well lead Royal Challengers spin attack this season.
AvailabilityRoyal Challengers have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Quote"I want to be the best in death-over bowling. I have practised a lot in the nets and sweated it out for many hours just to bowl in the last overs of the match."
Odds4/1 - joint favourites with Chennai Super Kings
Anuj Vignesh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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