For Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the only way is up. Now, with both sides having lost three in three, the IPL faces the prospect of having one side winless well into the second week.
Royals have been in winning positions in each of their three games, but have lost the plot when they have looked like seizing the advantage.
Take their first match when, for the most part, Royals were behind the eight-ball against Kings XI Punjab. Then, when the game seemed to be in Royals' grasp, a batting collapse led to Kings XI stealing a win. In Hyderabad, not many gave Royals a chance against the fiery Sunrisers bowling attack. But they posted nearly 200 on a difficult batting track, only to lose the match with an over to spare.
On Sunday, the Royals' template was pretty much the same. Chennai Super Kings entered the match as favourites, but were promptly reduced to 28 for 3. It looked like Royals would keep Super Kings down to a manageable total, but then MS Dhoni blew them away. Then, later in the chase, Ben Stokes' dismissal turned the game against them with Royals needing only a dozen off the final over.
On the other side, Royal Challengers have been beaten soundly in two of their three games. As always, relying heavily on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers has not paid off, and the side's been all out twice already. Their pace-bowling unit, and bits-and-pieces allrounders, have not instilled fear in any side. This is where the arrival of a few Australians from the UAE will help.
Both captains have faced the heat. Kohli has been criticised for not being able to get the campaign on the road and missing the mark with his XIs, and Ajinkya Rahane for under-bowling spin in sluggish Chennai.
In the news
There are no injury concerns for either side, and both teams will be boosted by the arrival of the Australian contingent from the UAE. Marcus Stoinis and Nathan Coulter-Nile will link up with Royal Challengers, while Royals now have Ashton Turner available.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Steven Smith, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 K Gowtham, 8 Shreyas Gopal, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Varun Aaron
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Marcus Stoinis, 2 Parthiv Patel (wk), 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Prayas Ray Burman, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammad Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Royal Challengers should look to slot in Coulter-Nile straightaway. In IPL 2017, his bowling average of 15.20 was behind only those of Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Moreover, he could solve RCB's death-over woes, as he has an average of 14.40 in this period, with a ball-per-wicket ratio of 11.30.
There's also a case to open the batting with Stoinis. In BBL 2018-19, Stoinis crunched four half-centuries from the opener's spot, averaging 62.40 in ten games. Since 2018, Stoinis has averaged nearly 50 as an opener, compared to averages of 5.30 as No. 3, 21.10 as No. 4 and 23.40 as No. 5. Stoinis' addition will also bolster their bowling, adding a sixth option to an attack that does need some variety.
Royals should bowl K Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal to Kohli and de Villiers. Since IPL 2018, de Villiers falls to offbreak once every five deliveries and is dismissed by a legspinner's googly once every 6.50 balls. For Kohli, too, both bowlers could pose problems. Since IPL 2018, his strike rate to the googly is only 85.7, and his strike rate against offspin (75.0) is even poorer.
Stats that matter
Virat Kohli will captain an IPL side for the 100th time on Tuesday. He also needs just 40 more to get to 8000 T20 runs.
Since IPL 2018, Gowtham (8.84) and Unadkat (9.08) have the fifth and fourth worst economy rates in the middle overs (7-15). Only Ben Cutting, Harshal Patel and Mohammed Shami have fared worse.
This season, Jofra Archer's economy rate has been 6.30. In contrast, the economy of the remaining Royals pacers has been 11.30.