Virat Kohli in focus as RCB, MI search for points

Royal Challengers Bangalore need not worry about a spinning track as the Chinnaswamy turf is known for assisting batters; on top of that, Mumbai Indians doesn’t have a menacing spinner in its ranks.

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli at a practice session at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians did not have a perfect start to IPL 2019. RCB succumbed to an embarrassingly low total in the opener against Chennai Super Kings and MI got the stick for conceding too many runs against Delhi Capitals.

The teams will look to put the disappointments aside and start their IPL journey afresh at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday.

RCB could score only 70 runs against the defending champion. The pitch at Chepauk was slow and tricky to bat on, but a below-par score from a star-studded batting line-up — comprising Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali and Shimron Hetmyer — was surprising.

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RCB, to its credit, did not let it slip easily. After the CSK spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja claimed nine wickets among them, Kohli’s bowlers stretched the match till the 18th over.

MI let Delhi — read Rishabh Pant — run wild in the death overs to pile on 213 runs in its allotted 20 overs and subsequently lost by 37 runs.

In a positive development for MI and cricket fans, a fit Jasprit Bumrah resumed bowling at the nets. There were no signs of discomfort and he was even seen bowling bouncers at Kieron Pollard. He joined the team a day later, on Tuesday, after being kept under supervision in Mumbai for a shoulder trouble he picked up during fielding against DC.

The Karnataka State Cricket Association will be inviting 60 jawans of Indian Army for each of the seven IPL games at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The KSCA issued a press release which stated that 20 tickets each will be sponsored by KSCA, RCB and Bharathi Cements for each of the seven home matches of the Virat Kohli-led franchise. “Jawans are the pride of our nation. They are the sentinels of our liberty. The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) in collaboration with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Bharathi Cements have taken the initiative to invite 60 Jawans to witness ach of the seven IPL matches being played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium from March 28 to May 4,” KSCA stated.

A final assessment and a call on his selection for the playing XI for the fixture will be taken at the end of the practice session, a Mumbai Indians official said.

Mumbai pacer Lasith Malinga, who got the approval to play in the league from Sri Lanka Cricket, is expected to land in Bengaluru later on Wednesday.

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Ben Cutting is likely to make way if Malinga is selected in the playing XI.

“It’s a big game for us tomorrow. We need to get going with a win and hopefully bowl well and get our campaign going this year," MI's wicketkeeper -batsman Quinton de Kock said.

 

As for the host, it need not worry about the turning pitch. The Chinnaswamy wicket has been a traditionally good batting pitch with shorter boundaries and MI doesn’t boast of a menacing spin attack.

AB de Villiers concurred with the view: “I am hoping the wicket will be good. But every wicket we play is different in the IPL and in the world for that matter. It’s up to us to adapt. We should make sure we assess the conditions really well and whichever wicket we will be getting, we should play better cricket than we did the last time,” he said.

As is often the case in the IPL, RCB captain Kohli opened the innings against CSK. The fans, in various polls across social media, have expressed their desire to see Kohli bat at No. 3.

The Bengaluru fans, busy painting special banners for the first home game, will be out in large numbers and cheering for the team with the ever-hopeful ‘Ee sala cup namde’ chant.

It's been a long wait for the IPL trophy.

Squads

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kulwant Khejroliya, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Colin de Grandhomme, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Shivam Dube, Heinrich Klassen, Gurkeerat Singh, Himmat Singh, Prayas Ray Barman

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Anukul Roy, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Quinton de Kock, Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Quinton de Kock, Lasith Malinga, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Pankaj Jaiswal, Rasikh Salam, Yuvraj Singh