Royal Challengers seek pit stop at Pune
Pune Warriors vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
8 pm, Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are in dire need of a confidence boost on their IPL 6 campaign and their match against the Pune Warriors in Pune on Thursday will be a welcome game for captain Virat Kohli.
RCB’s batsmen had a frustrating game against Rajasthan with starts repeatedly going to waste. The bowlers had their plans upset by Sanju Samson and it was too late by the time they could recover.
Chris Gayle will especially be glad to face Pune again, having destroyed them over the course of his world record 175* last week. Virat Kohli too has fallen off in the race for the Orange Cap with modest returns from his last 4 matches. Coupled with the criticism post the Mumbai match, he will be eager to let his runs talk for him.
The bowling managed to make the game against Rajasthan a close one towards the end but will want to keep a tighter check on the runs they give away at the death. The spinners have to take wickets in the middle overs instead of letting the batsmen build partnerships.
Pune are on a five match losing streak, losing games from positions of advantage and losing games comprehensively. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the saving grace with his tight opening spells but Pune’s death bowling has the worst numbers in the tournament. The batsmen simply have not been able to score enough runs at a T20 pace.
Aaron Finch, Luke Wright and Steve Smith are the biggest batting threats from Pune; Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh have had a poor run for them. Besides Bhuvneshwar Kumar, newcomer Kane Richardson has impressed with his pace and Rahul Sharma has proved troublesome with his leg-spin and RCB’s middle order will have to be ready to tackle them.
Abhinav Mukund will be lucky if he gets a second game on Thursday, Kohli might want to try out Sheldon Jackson and promote either himself or Moises Henriques to the opening slot.
RCB absolutely need to nail down the Pune game to arrest their recent downward slide. The game against Mumbai was one sided and the loss against Rajasthan gave Kohli more to think about. The Pune game, with the hosts’ current form should be opportunity to put in fresh thought and get the campaign back on track.
The team has been more consistent than their 0-4 away record suggests, Pune will be a good place to prove the point.