The Battle of the Royals Continues.
DATE: 23rd April, 2012
TIME: 20:00 (IST)
VENUE: Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Stung by a loss at the hands of Chennai Super Kings in their last game, Rajasthan Royals will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at Sawai Mansingh Stadium and will look forward to extend their unbeaten run this season in their fortress. In IPL, RCB have played three matches in Jaipur and have managed to edge the Royals in two of them. But given RCBs recent dismal show against RR in Bangalore, Dravids men hold a psychological advantage.
Piggybacked on Chris Gayle, the Royal Challengers Bangalore seem to be on their way to recovery. After two back to back losses, against CSK and RR, RCB got its script right and chased down totals in excess of 150. In both the wins Gayle was in the drivers seat, while AB de Villiers playing second fiddle to him. With his majestic display of power, this man from the Caribbean has averaged 49.2 in five matches at a stunning strike rate of 157.69. Striking at the rate of 145.68 and sharing the load on the other side, DeVilliers has made significant contributions. Virat Kohli and Saurabh Tiwary have disappointed so far. Skipper Vettori will have to make a tough call to between AB McDonald and Tillakaratne Dilshan. McDonald with his fast-medium pace and handy batting has created an impression. But looking at the pitch conditions at Jaipur Dilshans spin is likely to get preference over McDonalds medium pace. RCBs bowling stack is intimidating. A strong bowling attack will be RCBs major strength over Rajasthan Royals. Zaheer Khans swing and Vettoris accuracy inscrutable spin might have not taken too many wickets but they have effectively blocked the flow of runs. Muralitharan has been amongst the wickets. In four matches played so far, Murali has scalped three wickets twice and eight wickets in all so far at an impressive strike rate of 12.00. With Dilshan or McDonald joining them, RCB will have a good bowling attack. Though Vinay Kumar, H.Patel and Bhatkal have been ordinary and wayward, requiring a good homework if they want to avoid the fate they have had against the Royals in Bangalore.
With Stuart Binnys inclusion and Kevon Coopers comeback in playing XI, Royals look complete. In the game against CSK, Binny made most of whatever little chance he got to prove his worth. The way he bowled the twentieth over, the most intense and critical of all, it felt as if Royals have found a bowler who can challenge in death overs even the best finisher of the game. His batting, which boomed in Ranji Trophy, in all likelihood, will propel him to deliver in IPL as well. Cooper showed no signs of illness as he accounted for Du Plessis and Raina making RR sniff a win. His bowling has been disciplined and full of variations. Claiming 10 wickets in just four matches, he is not very far away from claiming the Purple Cap back. Evergreen Brad Hogg with his spin can trap batsmen with his guile and variation, thus keeping a check on the flow of runs. Importantly, his experience is a vital factor that helps the team in maintaining composure and staying focused even in crunch situations. Lately, against RCB, S. Trivedi got his best IPL figures- 4 for 23. He would be looking forward to replicate this performance on a pitch that suits his kind of bowling. Amit Singh will look to tighten the flow of runs, for in last three matches he conceded runs at the economy rate of more than eleven runs per over. Given the slow and low pitch, Ankeet Chavan might come into reckoning, for in the two matches played by him in Jaipur he managed 4 wickets at a strike rate of 6.00. Royals batsmen have been consistent in performance. Each and every batsman has performed well even in tough conditions like that in Chepauk. Rahane with his pure craft and Owais Shah have been intimidating. The only concern is Brad Hodges underutilization. Scoring 129 runs at an average of 64.50 at a strike rate of 157.31, he deserves a place up the order.
PLAYERS WHO SHOULD STEAL THE THUNDER
Kevon Copper: Super Cooper is back with his flair. His game against CSK, where he claimed 2 of 23, not only added to his already striking stats but also highlighted the ability he possesses. It would be thrilling to see how he performs and competes with the best bowlers of IPL.
Brad Hodge: When he is on crease runs flow in a torrent. His best 44 and 48 have come in Jaipur. With his overall success in T20 and his recent contributions, he is more likely to explode.
Chris Gayle: He has got the highest strike rate in IPL and his ability to win matches single handed makes him RCBs most important asset. His latest scores of 87 and 81 were a majestic show of brute power. Royals will expend most of its energy in getting him out first.
Virat Kohli: He has not had success in IPL 2012 so far. The only match in which he scored runs was against Chennai. Before the IPL he impressed all with his scintillating batting. Royals should be ready with some tricks up their sleeves to stop Kohli, for he can make a comeback any time.
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur is a great batting track and has a fast outfield. It will remain the same as it was in the last match against Deccan Chargers. However, it traditionally has been a slow and low track, which makes batting difficult initially. But once set, batsmen can score freely. This makes it a challenging wicket especially for the bowlers but does provide assistance to the spinners. Win the toss bat first and aim for a total in excess of 180.
FORM FACTOR (most recent match
Rajasthan Royals: LWWLL
Royal Challengers Bangalore: WWLLL