A record to maintain in Bengaluru

Plot:

Of the two finalists last year, we have taken care of one - the defending champions, at home. Next, we face the runner-up, Royal Challengers Bangalore in their backyard, in the Garden City. The news that’s topping newspapers and most websites at the moment is their skipper, Virat Kohli’s return. Last year, he was the leading run-scorer in the Indian Premier League and scored four centuries too. However, against us, Kohli could manage a collective of 40 runs in two games, both of which we won.

The start to our campaign this year has been better than a few previous years in our IPL history. We did lose our first game away, but came back strongly at home. After beating KKR in a cliff-hanger of a chase, we blunted SRH with a strong all-round performance. In what is a demanding schedule early in the tournament for us, our boys have had to fly in to Bengaluru the morning after the victory against the Sunrisers. As the past has it, our record at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium is next to invincible, with 6 wins out of 7 games against RCB. With most departments of our game clicking, we will be looking to make it 7 out of 8.

The Parthiv Patel-Jos Buttler opening combination has been providing solid starts for us so far in the tournament. The only man to set foot on run-land is our skipper, Rohit Sharma. However, it should just be a matter of time before the Hitman accumulates a few and gets to the 4000 run-mark in the process. The middle-order looks quite settled with an in-form Nitish Rana with the frequently contributing Pandya brothers in tow. In Rayudu’s absence, Rana has been doing a fantastic job, anchoring the innings when wickets fall early, and increasing the run-rate when required.

Royal Challengers Bangalore have been on a see-saw ride so far! After losing their first match to SRH, they beat the Daredevils at home and went on to lose their encounter against Kings XI, away. With Kohli’s return, he could take up one of the opening slots, which can make their batting line-up look more settled than it did in their first three games. Although balls usually disappear into the crowd and beyond in Bengaluru, our bowlers will be confident after their successful outing in the previous game. Malinga and Bumrah pairing in the death overs and Harbhajan’s strangling spells restricted the Sunrisers and they will hope to tame the strong RCB setup too.

Stage:

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

Like the Wankhede, the M. Chinnaswamy is known to host one of the most vociferous crowds in the IPL. The ground is smaller than most in India and miss-hits can fly into the stands too. Generally a batsman’s paradise, the first game over here in this season saw batsmen struggle to time the ball the way they would have liked to. RCB successfully defended 157 in that game. For almost two straight years, no team could defend a total of under 200 at this venue, until RCB’s victory over DD.

Acts:

Bumrah vs Kohli:

Bumrah was easily India’s best T20 bowler in 2016, while Kohli was the best T20 batsman in the same year. After scripting some remarkable wins for the country, these two will be on opposite sides.  Jasprit Bumrah was the Man of the Match in our last game and will look to dismiss his national skipper as soon as he gets to bowl at him.

Bhajji vs ABD:

The experienced one vs The innovative one! Harbhajan wasn’t part of our first game this year, but he played in our last two games. The Turbanator has conceded 50 runs in 8 overs, conceding runs at over just 6 an over. He picked up 2 wickets against SRH and even bowled exceedingly well in the Powerplay. ABD too missed out on 2 games, but returned with a disdainful knock of 89. Bhajji will look to apply the brakes on the South African superstar’s scoring rate, if he cuts loose.

Hardik vs Watto:

Both these all-rounders can win matches single-handedly, with both bat and ball! Hardik Pandya has been in scintillating form with the bat, and is getting there with the ball too. Watto is yet to tee off in either departments of the game, but has done well against Mumbai in the past. Watson has picked up 11 wickets against us, his second most for him against any IPL team and has scored over 300 runs as well.

Milestones:

⦁    We have the best win percentage of 85.71 by an away team at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, having won 6 out of the 7 games here.
⦁    Harbhajan needs 2 wickets to claim his 200th T20 wicket and become the third bowler from India to get there, after Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin.
⦁    In the list of highest wicket-takers away from home, we have two of the best in the IPL. Malinga leads the charts with 65 and Bhajji is third on the list with 60.


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