RCB look to surmount CSK hurdle

RCB look to surmount CSK hurdle

Virat Kohli’s outfit hopes for another strong show by its batsmen today.

Coming off an extended but welcome break, thanks to counting of votes for the General Elections on Friday, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings will have different purposes when they clash in an IPL-7 match here at the JSCA stadium on Sunday.

With eight wins from 10 games Super Kings have more or less ensured their place in the play-offs while Royal Challengers, having won in just four matches after 10 outings, have to win all of their remaining four matches, including the one here on Sunday, to keep themselves in hunt for a place in the last four. What has compounded Challengers’ problem is that three of their must-win final four matches are on the road before they come home to Chinnaswamy to face the Super Kings again.

That Virat Kohli and company haven’t proved themselves good travellers has been evident from their six losses in eight away matches that eventually neutralised their stupendous seven-win home run last season when they failed to qualify for the Play-offs.

The Bangalore side ended up at the wrong side of result in their only away match against Mumbai this season but would hope to reverse this unflattering trend. That their sixth position in the points table doesn’t truly reflect the quality of the Bangalore side is obvious and a combination of reasons can be attributed for them languishing at the bottom half of the table. Their UAE leg, where they lost three of their five matches, was largely marred by their misfiring batsmen even as an under-rated bowling unit returned with its reputation enhanced.   

Back in India, the batsmen have gradually grown in confidence with Yuvraj Singh finding his mojo back. His two blistering half-centuries against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils were reassuring as have been AB de Villiers’ pyrotechniques. Skipper Kohli and Chris Gayle, however, continue to be a big worry and no team can consistently hope to tide over such crisis with two of their best batsmen in the middle of a prolonged lean patch.  

The inclusion of Muttiah Muralitharan did the trick against Daredevils, helping them salvage a situation. The bowling has tapered off on Indian pitches and the veteran off-spinner may just provide that spark along with leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and left-arm spinner Yuvraj. Mitchell Starc has been largely effective and it remains to be seen if Abu Nechim, who did a decent job against Daredevils, retains his place.
  There is also a small matter of adjusting to playing under, at least the first half, natural light as RCB will be playing the rest of their matches in day. But it’s not the just the hostile crowd and testing conditions that RCB will have to tackle but they will also have to contend with arguably the most well-rounded side in the league. While their skipper MS Dhoni remains their biggest USP, they have an uncanny knack of unearthing match winners every season.

Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, who though won’t be available for their last two matches as he will fly back home for the birth of his second child, have formed a potent force at the top of the order while Mohit Sharma has been the joint highest wicket-taker this season.

It’s going to be an uphill task for Challengers but given their strength, a win is not beyond the realms of possibility.

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