IPL 2018: RCB aims to get campaign on track against KXIP

On Friday, Chris Gayle and K.L. Rahul will be back on familiar turf, as KXIP meets RCB in Bengaluru.

It'll be homecoming for KXIP batsman K.L. Rahul, who plays for Karnataka in the domestic circuit.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

At the end of Kings XI Punjab's emphatic victory in its season-opener in Mohali, Chris Gayle conducted a little interview with K.L. Rahul on the outfield.

The Karnataka batsman was discussing his 14-ball-50 when Gayle brought up the question of a return to Bengaluru for their next game. "Your hometown," the Jamaican said. "Our hometown," Rahul corrected him.

For seven memorable seasons, Gayle was the darling of the crowds at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. On Friday, he and Rahul will be back on familiar turf, as KXIP meets RCB here.

Gayle is unlikely to play any part in the game but he will be welcomed with great warmth. "The team decided to go a different way at the auction but he will always be an RCB player in our minds and for the people of Bengaluru,” the RCB coach Daniel Vettori said earlier this month; his words will not be disputed.

Will McCullum replicate his pyrotechnics from the 2008 season opener at Chinnaswamy?

 

The visiting side will be confident after having put Delhi Daredevils to the sword on Sunday. R. Ashwin and the 17-year-old Afghan off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman were impressive with the ball before Rahul's blitz floored Delhi.

For what it is worth, KXIP will have all the local expertise it needs, in the Karnataka trio of Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair.

RCB, for all the reshuffling the squad has undergone, demonstrated some familiar failings in Kolkata. Once Virat Kohli and A.B. de Villiers fell, in the space of two balls to the part-time off-spin of Nitish Rana, the innings went off the rails.

How the two teams have fared against each other

 

Mandeep Singh staged something of a recovery, but the team needed a strong 'finisher'. Then Sunil Narine - yet again - cut loose as the bowlers wilted. The spin duo of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal, on whom much depended, suffered much.

RCB fielded only five bowlers at the Eden Gardens but Vettori did not believe the team needed a sixth. "We didn’t bowl well to Narine," he said. "Everything else fitted; I was happy with our performance there. We look at it more as an opportunity for the five bowlers to do their job rather than wait for someone to fail and then have the sixth bowler come into the scene."

 

Last year, RCB struggled to come to grips with a home pitch that was uncharacteristically slow. The KSCA started work on the square late last year, top-dressing the surface to address the issue.

Vettori stated a couple of weeks ago, after a practice match, that the pitch had improved, hoping it would go back to being “the Chinnaswamy of old”. The faithful who throng the venue - for the first home game of the season - will hope for an improved RCB too.