Chance for RCB to bounce back
Back in their comfort zone of Mangalam Chinnaswamy stadium here, the Royal Challengers Bangalore would be looking to get their Indian Premier League (IPL)-7 campaign back on track when they face an also-struggling Hyderabad Sunrisers for the first time this season here Sunday.
A home game at the start of the second leg of the IPL-7 after losing three of the five matches in the UAE last month, provides the Virat Kohli-led RCB, runners-up in 2009, just the sort of platform to inject some momentum in their campaign.
They started off well with two back-to-back victories before falling off with three consecutive defeats.
Likewise, the Sunrisers, led by Shikhar Dawan, managed to win only two of the five games in the UAE and have failed to make much of an impact despite boasting an array of power-hitters in their ranks.
Winners in 2009 as Deccan Chargers before coming under new owners, the Sunrisers have provided only glimpses of their all-round ability. Undoubtedly, they possess among the strongest bowling attacks in the IPL with Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar being outstanding with their pace and movement, backed by the crafty leg-spinner Amit Mishra besides West Indian seamer Darren Sammy.
In both the matches that they won in the UAE, it was the Sunrisers batsmen, led by Aussies David Warner and Aaron Finch who have been in the forefront, but others, including Dhawan, have not been consistent enough to be noticed.
In fact, the marked inconsistency in their batting has let Sunrisers down this season, but with nine more games still to be played, they have as good a chance as any team to move up the league table.
As for the high-profile RCB, the UAE sojourn has been a humbling experience and their famed batting line-up even caved in spectacularly to 70 all out. It was something that obviously caused acute embarrassment to a team that includes Yuvraj Singh who at Rs.14 crore was the most expensive buy at the auction this year.
The absence of opener Chris Gayle in the opening four games in the UAE-leg did hurt RCB, and though the giant West Indian, who is nursing a dodgy back, played in the fifth match, he is still not fully fit as per his own admission. However, if the 34-year old southpaw is in the mix on the morrow, he could make a difference.
The form of Yuvraj, despite a couple of solid knocks, is still iffy while Kohli himself has not been consistent enough and the RCB have looked to South African AB de Villiers deliver the goods.
RCB are hoping that playing five of the remaining nine league matches at home, will certainly boost their chances of making the play-offs, though there is plenty of cricket to be played before that.
In contrast, RCB's bowling, despite its pronounced orientation towards pace, has been more impressive with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Varun Aaron and Morne Morkel being the spearheads while spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has proved to be an able foil to the fast bowlers. RCB though would be keen that Morkel regains his form as he has leaked runs.
While the dice seems to be loaded in RCB's favour on the morrow, the pre-monsoon showers that have been visiting the city the past few days during late evening could well influence the outcome.
(Posted on 03-05-2014)