Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Upbeat RCB out to rubber-stamp Playoffs qualification. With time running out, Punjab Kings meet a team they matchup well against.
With time running out, Punjab Kings meet a team they matchup well against.
There are some patterns to how Royal Challengers Bangalore are playing these days. They are big on matchups, even if it means having to chop and change their XI every other game. They are efficient with their middle-overs bowling. They may not be maximising their batting just yet but there are indications the openers want to go harder in the PowerPlay to offset their modest striking rate through the middle.
A second successive Playoffs appearance, which a win against Punjab Kings will assure, will mark a significant achievement for the once-inconsistent franchise since it embraced the Mike Hesson model after 2019.
All of that, however, is getting slightly ahead of ourselves. Standing in their way and a stress-free league phase run-in are Punjab Kings, who have become something of an anti-RCB in this small time period. PBKS are now the league's chaotic entertainers that RCB once were. They also match up well against this RCB (more below), better than many teams. It is with this tactical and psychological advantage that KL Rahul will fan his side's hopes of making a late run into the Playoffs.
When: RCB vs PBKS, October 3, 2021, 15.30 IST
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
What to expect: Another low-scorer on the relaid Sharjah wicket even though the heavy roller has been on overtime duty trying to extract some life from the pitch. The average first innings score in four games here is 135. Captain winning the toss will want to bat first, keep the opposition on the field in the heat and then apply the scoreboard pressure on a progressively deteriorated surface.
Head to Head: RCB 12-15 PBKS. Punjab Kings have won the last three games against RCB, including the reverse fixture earlier this year in Ahmedabad with left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar taking out the big-three of Kohli, de Villiers and Maxwell.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Injured/Availability: RCB have a clean bill of health to report.
Tactics & Matchups:Goerge Garton seemed a smart match-up pick against the Rajasthan Royals given his record against left-handers. But RCB could welcome back Wanindu Hasaranga on the slow Sharjah wicket against a line-up that has only one left-hander in Nicholas Pooran.
Probable XI:Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, KS Bharat (wk), Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dan Christian, Wanindu Hasaranga/George Garton, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Injured/Availability: Chris Gayle is unavailable having left the tournament citing bubble fatigue. Fabian Allen came out to bat limping against KKR and will be in a race against time to be fit given the quick turnaround.
Tactics & Matchups: Punjab matchup well against RCB whose line-up is predominantly right dominated. Last season, at the same venue, they fielded two leggies Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin in tandem, disrupting RCB into sending left-handers Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar above de Villiers in the order. When RCB did that, Rahul used Glenn Maxwell (then in PBKS) for his full quota of overs. Watch out for a similar role for Aiden Markram.
Left-arm spinner Brar had a great game in Ahmedabad and is set for a comeback and should Anil Kumble and KL Rahul really need it, they do have the option of playing Adil Rashid instead of Fabian Allen but it's a move that'll weaken the batting.
Probable XI:KL Rahul (c&wk), Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Aiden Markram, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Fabian Allen/Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan/Nathan Ellis, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh
Did you know?
– Opening partnerships against RCB in the last four games: 82, 71, 57, 77
– KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal partnerships in the last three games vs RCB: 78, 57, 59
– Both Chahal and Bishnoi have taken 7 wickets each in this UAE leg of IPL 2021 at rather similar economy rates of 5.57 and 5.92 respectively.
What they said:
“That's been the USP of our team in the last two games. Through the middle overs, our bowling has been amazing. With the bat as well, we have been getting good opening starts which gives a lot of balance to the team. That's been the focus with Dev and myself – to get good starts. Everything is coming along nicely and people are making contributions at the right time.” – Virat Kohli on RCB getting into the groove at the right time.
“These are things that kill me as a captain – leaving out young Indian boys. Chris [Gayle] has left the bubble, so we had to make a few changes to see what would be our best XI. But we go to Sharjah for the next game, and we'll see…” – KL Rahulon having to leave out Harpreet Brar from the team for the game against KKR.