RCB, RPS seek to end mini slump

Both teams started off with a victory and then lost their next two matches. While RPS coach Stephen Fleming attributed his team’s fluctuating form to first-season blues, RCB is yet to produce a collective effort in the ongoing IPL.

Despite his good run with the bat, Virat Kohli couldn't lead his team to victory in the last two games.   -  PTI

Two defeats in three games for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will bother skipper Virat Kohli. Even as he continues to perform well with the bat, his team is yet to produce a collective effort in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

Shane Watson’s presence this season lends depth in the batting and bowling departments. Stuart Binny is a capable all-rounder as well. But the latter was one of the six changes made in RCB’s previous game against Mumbai Indians. Replacements K. L. Rahul, Travis Head and Iqbal Abdulla, played their parts yet RCB failed at the Wankhede.

Chris Gayle’s larger-than-life figure will be missing when Kohli leads his squad at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on Friday against Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS).

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RPS, like RCB, started off with a victory and then lost its next two matches. Coach Stephen Fleming attributed his team’s fluctuating form to first-season blues. “We don't have that nucleus of players who have played together. We start a little bit back,” he said.

“It's no excuse and it just means we have to be very specific with what we do and the teams that we put out. At the moment we're just working very hard on the combination and making sure that the players are individually as good as they can be,” he added.

“I think franchises have started to learn what they are looking for, what style of player they want, what conditions they play on at home,” said Fleming, “The whole competition has got a lot smarter around spending money and buying players, I guess (that's) the reflection of the auction, you don't see as many crazy buys; you see a lot of strategy now. Teams have certainly closed up, I think there are some good sides and good conditions, it changes when you travel around India.”

MCA stadium at Gahunje is home base for RPS and the contest against the Bengaluru side will be its first home game. “We've got a pretty good idea but it won't be until one game under the belt that we'll really see the characteristics of the pitch we play on and what we can look for. We hope we can get it right, with what we've seen and the work we've done,” said Fleming.

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