IPL 2020: Kohli, De Villiers key to RCB fortunes
Like Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore too were beaten by underdogs in their previous match
Battle for the top two positions in the points table is hotting up as the league stage of the IPL nears its end. Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore are the three top teams, but interestingly all three lost their previous matches which shows that topsy-turvy results can still be expected.
In this context, Wednesday’s clash between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore is crucial for both. A win would virtually clear the path for a place in the top two, which is what front-running teams are seeking, to have two chances at the title.
Mumbai Indians are currently ahead of DC and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Net Run Rate, which in some ways reflects better all-round prowess. This is not just on subjective assessment. The margins by which MI have won most of their matches is a clear index of how good they’ve been.
In the previous match, though, MI were cut to size by century maker Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson, who made a sizzling half century, to help Rajasthan Royals overhaul a mammoth 195.
If this showed up some hitherto undiscovered chinks in Mumbai Indians, the situation’s been compounded by the injury to premier batsman and captain Rohit Sharma.
Sharma, who missed MI’s last two matches, has also been omitted from the Indian squads for Australia which suggests he may not return to action quickly in the IPL. This could hurt Mumbai Indians badly.
Like Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore too were beaten by underdogs in their previous match. Stragglers Chennai Super Kings suddenly rediscovered their mojo and upstaged Virat Kohli’s team with a clinical bowling and batting performance.
On a sluggish wicket, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s batting struggled, including their two master batsmen, Kohli and AB de Villiers, which saw them finish on a below par score that Chennai Super Kings conquered with breaking into a sweat.
Runs from Kohli and e Villiers are imperative, obviously, but for Royal Challengers Bangalore to match Mumbai Indians’ batting heft – even without Rohit – contributions from the other batsmen are important too.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s bowling — even if they don’t have the same richness of class and depth of experience as Mumbai Indians — has nonetheless functioned quite superbly, posing several challenges to opposing teams.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Chris Morris are the mainstays of the attack, but Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj have been splendid in support.
As the playoffs approach, what’s becoming critical for teams is sustaining form and stamina. Both Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore will be on test on these two counts.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
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