Can RCB stall Rajasthan's early momentum?

The Overview

This edition of the IPL has already witnessed quite a few high-scoring games, but the Wankhede has been the outlier. The average first-innings score in three games has been just 142 – the primary reason being the pacers striking in the powerplay with as many as 13 wickets at an average of 17.85. When Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore face off at the venue on Tuesday (April 5), both sides will rely on their pacers for a good start, especially with both top-heavy batting sides.

Glenn Maxwell’s unavailability continues to cause a problem in balance for RCB. He not only is handy in counterattacking RR’s spin in the middle overs but would’ve been vital against RR’s left-handers with his offspin. In Maxwell’s absence, RCB’s senior batters will have the responsibility to tackle RR’s spin pair, but barring Virat Kohli, neither boast of a bankable record. RR’s spin duo, have been a handful in the first two games. In R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal’s combined 16 overs, they have picked up six wickets at just over a run a ball. How RCB go against the spin twins will be the difference between an added 20-30 runs.

RR’s glamorous top-order, though, has lived up to its billing in the first two games; one total in excess of 200 and the other close enough (193). Jos Buttler scored the first century of the season against MI, while Sanju Samson’s initial burst against SRH set up the game. RCB will hope to get into RR’s top order early and will bank on Siraj to deliver, given his proven record against both Buttler and Samson. The batters average 11 and 10 respectively against Siraj, but Buttler has scored 228 runs against RCB in 9 innings.

RR though have a lot going for them. It’s still early days in the competition, but they look like a solid all-round unit. They’ve already topped the boundary and six charts after 11 games, while RCB are second-last. Their pacers have struck in the powerplay with the spinners then wreaking havoc in the middle. RCB are coming off a narrow three-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders to get their campaign started. They will look to carry on to stall RR’s momentum to hand them their first loss.

When: RR vs RCB, April 5, 19:30 IST

Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

What to expect: The three games played here so far have been won by the teams chasing. There has also been assistance for the pacers with Umesh Yadav (twice) and Mohammed Shami being named player of the match in the three games here. Dew has played its part in the evening games and captains winning the toss will want to chase. At the Wankhede, RR have lost 7 of their 13 games, while RCB have lost 8 of their 12.

IPL Head to Head: In 24 games the two sides have played against each other, RCB just about is ahead of RR with a 12-10 tally with two with no results.

Team Watch:

Rajasthan Royals

Tactics & Matchups:RR’s revamped spin attack has proved to be a success after the pacers have been able to strike in the powerplay. Boult has the wood over Faf du Plessis, getting the RCB skipper thrice in 43 balls, having conceded only 37 runs.

Probable XI: Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Unavailable: Glenn Maxwell, Josh Hazlewood, Jason Behrendorff

Tactics & Matchups: Hasaranga had a good start to the season with five wickets, four of which, though, have been of right-handers. He has the wood over Samson, dismissing him thrice in four innings, but RR’s left-handers would be significant in countering Hasaranga’s googlies in the middle overs.. RCB will also look to Kohli to play out the middle overs when Ashwin and Chahal operate given his ability to score against the former against who he has 162 runs.

Probable XI: Faf du Plessis (c), Anuj Rawat, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sherfane Rutherford, Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu Hasaranga, David Willey, Harshal Patel, Akash Deep, Mohammed Siraj

Did you know?

– Since IPL 2021, Hetmyer has scored 315 runs in 20 innings in the death overs, averaging 28.63, striking at 190.90. He has struck 22 fours and as many sixes with a boundary percentage of 26.67.

– In two games, RR have hit 58 boundaries with 25 of them being sixes – ahead of the next-best LSG by 11; 10.4% of their runs have come in sixes.

What they said:

“The dew is something we can’t control but we can practice with a wet ball and get used to it. Same for the fielding, put the ball in some water and practice your catching because the dew is playing a factor and we need to adapt as quickly as possible.” – Jos Buttler.

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