Wounded RCB faces in-form RPS

The desperation to break out of a cycle of defeats makes Royal Challengers Bangalore a dangerous opponent to face. Rising Pune Supergiant has come through close encounters in IPL 2017 and is starting to pick form at the right time in tournament..

Ben Stokes has started to perform well for Rising Pune Supergiant.   -  K.Murali Kumar

The desperation to break out of a cycle of defeats makes Royal Challengers Bangalore a dangerous opponent to face. Rising Pune Supergiant has come through close encounters in IPL 2017 and is starting to pick form at the right time in tournament.

After starting off with a victory at home against Mumbai Indians, RPS spend some time licking the wounds and lost three matches in a row before the turnaround happened.Key players like M S Dhoni and Ben Stokes regained their poise and instantly raised the confidence level in the side. Dhoni struck form at home against classy Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling to snatch victory. Stokes muscled in against power-packed Mumbai Indians with a bowling masterclass.

Rajat Bhatia has no doubt about the visitors’ potential. “You know the RCB batting line-up. Any player in the side, from the start to the end, can win the match on his own if he stays at the wicket. We are aware and will trying to keep them in the form they are in at the moment. The track here has always been batsmen-friendly, so high scores are expected.”

RCB guns haven’t fired yet but the likes of A.B de Villiers, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle won’t take long to find the range. For a teammate like Kedar Jadhav, sub-dued after a rapidfire 69 against Delhi Daredevils in a home game which Bengaluru won, it is time to lead the way. He is the highest run-getter in IPL’s 10th season (206 runs) for the visitor.

Pune’s most exciting cricketer needs more time at the crease to stamp his authority, Jadhav can be as explosive as any leading T20 stroke-maker on his day. RPS opener Rahul Tripathi (just ahead with 216 runs in eight games) is another Pune talent who would like to cash in on opportunities. Among domestic bowlers standing up to be counted, RCB’s Yuzuvendra Chahal ranks up there in the elite (10 wickets). RPS talents getting noticed are off-spinner Washington Sundar and left-arm swing bowler Jaydev Unadkat. Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla in the Bangalore side is another first-class cricketer dependable in a crisis

Spinners may be influential, Bhatia feels, if the wicket dries up due to the heat. “In that case, there will be cracks for bowlers to exploit. Otherwise in T20, bowlers are there to get hammered, fans get entertained with fours and sixes.” The dew aspect does not come into play in a day game on Saturday. RPS was surprised by the wet outfield in the previous night game at the MCA, as were the groundsmen.