RCB, RPS battle for survival

Royal Challengers Bangalore will host Rising Pune Supergiants at Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday in what will be a battle for relevance for two teams languishing near the bottom of the IPL points table.

M. S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli, India's limited-overs and Test captains respectively, have struggled for victories in the IPL this season.   -  PTI Photo/IPL/SPORTZPICS

After an insipid campaign thus far, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Rising Pune Supergiants will be desperate to spark a comeback in the second-half of the IPL.

RCB, plagued by inadequacies in the bowling department, has recorded two wins in its seven matches, while Pune has posted a similarly disappointing three victories in nine outings.

RCB's previous encounter, against Kolkata Knight Riders, highlighted the obvious misgivings. The Bengaluru franchise posted 185 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, only to see the opposition chase it down with five balls to spare. If the side is to progress beyond the league stage, the bowlers must step up to the plate.

Local lad Stuart Binny, however, did impress with the new ball against KKR, and the inclusion of seamer Chris Jordan - he is likely to make his IPL debut on Saturday - will only improve the side's chances of picking up the early wickets.

Impressive batting unit

RCB's batting line-up wears a far more settled look, with wicketkeeper-batsman K. L. Rahul providing the perfect foil for the established trio of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers. Shane Watson, Sachin Baby and Binny can be trusted to shore up the innings if they are called into action.

Pune, on the other hand, have relied heavily on Ajinkya Rahane to do the job at the top of the order. Rahane, who has posted five fifties in nine knocks, was instrumental to guiding his side to a seven-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils on Thursday. The Mumbaikar received good support from opening partner Usman Khawaja, who received a call-up to a squad which has lost Kevin Pietersen, Faf Du Plessis, Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith to injuries.

Skipper M.S. Dhoni has scores of 27, 24 and 30 n.o. in his last three innings, and is easing his way to top-gear. “Rahane is a phenomenal player. He will be the key wicket for us,” RCB's Jordan said.

While Pune opted to skip training on Friday, incessant showers cut RCB’s training session short. There is a mild chance that rain may play spoilsport on match-day – a scenario which neither team can afford.

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