Battle of Royals in first afternoon game of IPL
The dew factor will go out of the window but the searing heat will be an issue when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on a better prepared Rajasthan Royals in the first of the 10 IPL double-headers here on Saturday.
Having played their first two games at Sharjah, the smallest of the three venues, Royals got their strategy wrong in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai.
The ground here, too, is on the bigger side and Royals’ experience of playing in Dubai will help them take more informed decisions. RCB will also be making their first appearance at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
With the batsmen unable to hit through the line as consistently as they could do in Sharjah, Royals failed to chase 175 against KKR on Wednesday.
Since they have a settled overseas players’ combination, one possible change in the eleven could be replacing pacer Ankit Rajpoot with Varun Aaron, who is yet to get a game.
The team has benched young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal after Jos Buttler’s arrival but calls have been growing for his inclusion. With the top three picking themselves, the stylish southpaw can only play in the middle order.
Both Royals and the RCB go into Saturday’s afternoon match with two wins in three games.
RCB have made a promising start but need to improve their fielding and death bowling. Navdeep Saini bowled a tidy Super Over against Mumbai Indians to get his team over the line after RCB leaked as many as 79 runs in the last four overs for the game to be tied.
The Bangalore franchise made three changes in the previous clash and are likely to give those players – Isuru Udana, Adam Zampa and Gurkeerat Mann – another go.
The move to open the bowling with Washington Sundar paid off as the offie returned with figures of 12 for one in four overs in a game where more than 400 runs were scored.
Ab de Villiers has shown ominous touch and it must be heartening for the team management to see Shivam Dube providing the big hits towards the end against Mumbai Indians.
Skipper Kohli is yet to set the tournament on fire and Saturday could be his day.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Steven Smith (c), Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer.
The match starts 3.30 pm IST. PTI