Royal Challengers Bangalore, the finalists of 2016 find themselves all but out of this season. They have to win all their remaining matches to have a mathematical chance of making through the playoffs. The story has been miserable for them with only two wins and a point from their 9 matches. The lack of intent in the team has come to haunt them as they are facing the exit doors despite having the top ranked batsmen of ODIs and T20s in their ranks. In their last match against Gujarat Lions, they were bowled out for 134 and then Aaron Finch ran away with the game.
Rising Pune Supergiants are at fourth position in the points table and need a win at their home to consolidate their position. Their bowling woes resurfaced in their last match against KKR with Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir batting them out of the game.
The pitch at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium at Pune has a hint of green touch to it. It is expected to be another high scoring encounter with batsmen making merry. Since this is a 4 pm start, it would be a little challenging for the players to cope up with Pune’s summer heat.
RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS – STRENGTHS
Rahul Tripathi is the only batsman in IPL 2017 to make 5 consecutive scores of 30 or more. He has combined well with Ajinkya Rahane at the top and is one of the prime reasons of RPS being in the upper half of table. Steve Smith made a half century in the last game. Dhoni and Manoj TIwary are also looking in good form.
RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS – WEAKNESSES
The bowling department of RPS has been inconsistent and they are leaking away runs. Even Imran Tahir was taken for cleaners by the KKR batsmen. The absence of Ben Stokes in the last game has hurt them dearly. RCB batsmen will look to exploit their bowling inexperience to come back in form. The fielding of RPS leaves a lot to be desired as they have grassed 12 catches so far in the tournament. In their last match also, Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir both got reprieve from the fielders.The batsmen of RPS have gotten off to good starts but they need to convert them into big scores. Inclusion of Faf du Plessis in place of unfit Ben Stokes surprised everyone as it is the bowling attack that needs some teeth.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – STRENGTHS
There are not much positives expected from a team whose campaign is all but over. Yuzvendra Chahal is the lone bright spot for the RCB squad. He has taken wickets and has kept the batsmen guessing with his attacking bowling. Samuel Badree is also amongst wickets. Tymal Mills has also bowled well in the matches he has been fit enough to play. Bangalore hasn’t lost a single game at Pune in the four matches that they have played here so far.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – WEAKNESSES
RCB are all in dumps and the lack of aggression and purpose has made winning a distant dream for them. Their utterly poor batting performance has hurt them badly. With no middle order batsmen among runs, the top order is in a pressure cooker situation. Gayle has been apprehensive at the top to start with. Virat Kohli and A B deVilliers haven’t been amongst runs despite showing some glimpses of their prowess. Their pace bowling is in tatters.
RPS – Ben Stokes will undergo a fitness test in the morning as RPS would be desperately looking to include him to strengthen their bowling attack.
Rahul Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith (capt), MS Dhoni (wk), Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwary, Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Imran Tahir
RCB – Shane Watson could be given a chance ahead of Chris Gayle. The fit again Tymal Mills can also return to the side.
Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Mandeep Singh, Pawan Negi, Samuel Badree, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Aravind, Aniket Choudhary, Yuzvendra Chahal
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 3, RPS – 1, RCB – 2
Earlier this season at Bangalore, RPS posted a total of 161 and then restricted the hosts to 134 riding on Ben Stokes, Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat good outing with the ball.
With RPS looking to get their campaign back on track and RCB searching for some positives, this game is expected to be a hard fought match. Here’s what we predict.
If RPS bats first
1st Innings Score: 170 – 180
RPS wins by 20 – 30 runs
If RCB bats first
1st Innings Score: 160 – 170
RPS wins by 5 wickets.