Bengaluru, April 28: Rejuvenated by two back-to-back victories that put their campaign back on track, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will be seeking to maintain the momentum when they host top guns Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Wednesday (April 29).
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Fortified by the presence of Australian paceman Mitchell Starc, who played a key role in both wins in Ahmedabad and New Delhi after missing the early matches due to a knee injury, Virat Kohli's RCB will be keen to extend the run of success as they reach the halfway mark in the league.
RCB, currently fourth with six points from as many games, had beaten Royals by nine wickets in Ahmedabad on Friday with Starc picking up three wickets to restrict the hosts to 130 before Kohli (62 not out) and AB de Villiers (47 not out) chased down the modest target in 16.1 overs.
The win snapped RCB's string of three consecutive defeats and they went on to demolish Delhi Daredevils by 10 wickets at Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday with openers Kohli (35 not out) and Chris Gayle (62 not out) taking just 10.3 overs to ease past the home team's total of 95 with Starc picking up his second set of three wickets.
In contrast, Royals, after a splendid start to the season with five consecutive victories, suffered a Super Over defeat to Kings XI Punjab followed by the loss to RCB which checked their progress before a no-result due to rains in Kolkata on Sunday earned them a point.
Thus, Shane Watson-led Royals have tripped a bit and their bowling has not quite shaped up as well as expected as they have taken just 32 wickets in eight matches as against 42 in six by the RCB, who even bowled out Daredevils.
However, Watson along with fellow-opener Ajinkya Rahane, the highest run-getter thus far in the season, along with compatriots Steve Smith and James Faulkner still form a formidable line-up with veteran spinner Pravin Tambe always a threat.
Yet, they will be up against a team high on confidence and RCB bowling is gradually emerging as a potent force spearheaded by Starc and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, currently their top wicket-taker. The duo is well-supported by the likes of left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla and seamers David Wiese and Varun Aaron.
If rain Gods permit, Wednesday's game promises to be an explosive affair between two evenly matched sides with the result favouring the team that players smarter cricket.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Mitchell Starc, Nic Maddinson, Varun Aaron, Ashok Dinda, Harshal Patel, Vijay Zol, Abu Nechim, Sandeep Warrier, Yogesh Takawale, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rilee Rossouw, Iqbal Abdulla, Manvinder Bisla, Mandeep Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Subramaniam Badrinath, Darren Sammy, Sean Abbott, David Wiese, Sarfaraz Khan, Jalaj Saxena, Shishir Bhavane, Sreenath Arvind.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (captain), Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Steve Smith, Rajat Bhatia, Tim Southee, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Kane Richardson, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Dishant Yagnik, Vikramjeet Malik, Ankit Sharma, Rahul Tewatia, Pravin Tambe, Chris Morris, Dinesh Salunkhe, Juan Theron, Pradeep Sahu, Barinder Saran, Sagar Trivedi.
Match starts 8 PM IST