IPL 2018: Royals braces for dymanic RCB

Both teams - Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals - are fresh off wins over Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils and will be eyeing to build on the momentum when they clash on Sunday.

The form of A.B. De Villiers will be a huge positive for RCB going into Sunday's match.   -  AP

Royal Challengers Bangalore will be relieved it got over the line on Friday night; the mood at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium would have been sombre if the first home game of the new season had ended in defeat.

Last year, Virat Kohli's men won only one game on their own patch, losing five thereafter to finish bottom of the table. “The crowd has a lot of expectations from us,” the captain said afterwards. “Tonight was a game we wanted badly.”

Part of the reason for RCB's wretched home form last year was perhaps its failure to adapt to an uncharacteristically slow pitch. The surface was expected to be vastly different after work on the square, but Friday's wicket, while having something for everyone, was not quite the batting paradise that may have been imagined.

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A.B. de Villiers called it slow, while Kohli said it was “slightly better than last year”. Washington Sundar put the par score at between 165 and 170. “It was a very good wicket,” he said. “I don’t think it was like last year. Bowlers were also able to get some purchase and it was good for batting as well.”

Spin was clearly a factor in the game: Washington was in fine form himself, while R. Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman both got the ball to grip and turn.

 

It could come to matter on Sunday too when RCB meets Rajasthan Royals here. The home side, which will turn out in green on the occasion (an annual ritual), could be tempted to field an extra spinner although Kohli has spoken about his preference for giving only five bowlers total responsibility.

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The visitor has spinners of its own, in the Karnataka pair of K. Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal, both of whom have bowled only five overs between them in Rajasthan's two matches, but may expect to play a greater role here.

The side is fresh off a 10-run win over Delhi Daredevils in a curtailed encounter, when the run chase was reduced to a six-over dash.

Rajasthan's batting was not particularly impressive either that night or in the game before; D'Arcy Short and Ben Stokes are yet to fire, and RCB will be wary of their abilities.

The Barbados-born all-rounder Jofra Archer, who was bought for Rs. 7.2 crore in the auction, joined the Rajasthan camp after the opening fixture and awaits his debut.

Archer was a sensation in the BBL; Ajinkya Rahane will hope he has a similar impact on the IPL.

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