RESULT
3rd Match (N), DY Patil, March 27, 2022, Indian Premier League
(19/20 ov, T:206) 208/5

Punjab Kings won by 5 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)

Preview

New era RCB face Punjab's batting might at unfamiliar DY Patil

Agarwal's men boast a lot of power-hitting talent, but will be without Bairstow for their season opener

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
26-Mar-2022
Virat Kohli is bemused as Harpreet Brar celebrates his wicket, Punjab Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2021, Ahmedabad, April 30, 2021

What kind of Kohli, the batter, will we see this time around?  •  BCCI/IPL

Big picture

A lot of IPL teams, for a lot of the time, go into the auction to buy back the players they'd been forced to let go. And it makes for fun viewing because their rivals always drive up the price. Punjab Kings though did things a little differently.
They retained two, bought back five and said #okbai to 17. Then, with money to burn, they built a brand new team and it just bristles with power-hitting talent. Their former captain openly admitted he couldn't play the way he wanted to because he was worried about what would happen if he fell cheaply. Mayank Agarwal won't have any such concerns.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will be the first team who will take on the challenge of containing a line-up that has Shikhar Dhawan at the top, Liam Livingstone in the middle and Odean Smith at the end.
It is a daunting enough task without the added complication of no longer having access to their top-wicket taker anymore. Life after Virat Kohli (as captain) and AB de Villiers (as, well, Superman) is kicking off with a proper test.

In the news

Faf du Plessis is the man charged with leading the Royal Challengers transition and he can breathe slightly easier, if only for now, because Jonny Bairstow and Kagiso Rabada won't be among the opposition on Sunday on account of national duties.
That doesn't mean there aren't other issues. Glenn Maxwell - one of RCB's best players in 2021 - will not be available for the first two games and Josh Hazlewood, who lifted the title with Chennai Super Kings just a few months ago, will be arriving late after a successful tour of Pakistan.

Likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Anuj Rawat, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Sherfane Rutherford, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 David Willey, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Shahbaz Ahmed/Karn Sharma, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Punjab Kings: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 3 Liam Livingstone, 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Shahrukh Khan, 6 Prabhsimran Singh (wk), 7 Odean Smith, 8 Nathan Ellis/Harpreet Brar, 9 Sandeep Sharma, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Rahul Chahar

Strategy punt

  • David Willey is a powerplay expert. His record - 81 wickets in 139 innings - suggests he almost guarantees you an early wicket. And with Hazlewood out, he could be the perfect new-ball bowler for RCB. Plus, given the DY Patil stadium actually assists pace bowling, there's even a chance that the England left-armer might do something that's been impossible lately - swing the white cricket ball.
  • A lot of teams may resort to taking the pace off to contain the Royal Challengers line-up. Among 20-plus players to have scored 100-plus runs against spin last season, Kohli had the lowest strike-rate (100 from 10 innings) and du Plessis had the third-lowest (108.08 in 12 innings). Dinesh Karthik's average of 20 against spin was the fourth lowest for a batter in IPL 2021 (min 10 innings). Punjab will be eager to exploit this weakness, especially since they won't have to worry about Maxwell throwing a spanner into the works.

Stats that matter

  • The DY Patil stadium has hosted 17 IPL matches so far. Ten of those have been won by the chasing team and you'll know why when you see the average first-innings score: 147.
  • Agarwal will be captaining a cricket team at senior level for only the fourth time in his career. And while a lack of experience like that can be a challenge to overcome, it must help that the 31-year old now knows his game inside out. Agarwal has become especially good at pacing his innings and is an absolute menace in the middle overs (7-16) with a strike rate 158.68. Among those with at least 50 runs in this period since IPL 2019, only four others fare better.
  • du Plessis loves playing against Punjab. His average - 61 - and number of fifties - 7 - are both way higher (42 vs KKR and 3 vs RCB) than his records against any other IPL team.
  • Sandeep Sharma has dismissed Kohli an IPL record seven times.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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