Smarting from two consecutive defeats, Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore take on MS Dhoni-led Rising Pune Supergiants on Thursday.
IPL newbie Pune and RCB – the team with arguably the best batting line-up in the league – are on equal footing as both have lost two consecutive matches after winning their opener. Both the teams started their campaign on a winning note – RPS defeated Mumbai Indians by nine wickets in their backyard while RCB beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 45 runs at home. After that, they lost their next two matches on the trot.
Following the defeats, Dhoni and Kohli will be aiming to put their respective teams on the winning track. A win here will be a shot in the arm for either of the skippers.
Venue: MCA International Stadium, Pune
Date: April 22, 2016
Time: 20:00 IST
Weather: A bright and sunny day with a high temperature of 36 degrees Celsius.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB do not have a problem with their batting as they have one of the most intimidating batsmen in the form of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson and are ably supported by young Sarfaraz Khan. On their day, they can tear apart any bowling attack. RCB’s main worry is their bowlers, as they have failed to contain the batsmen on more than one occasion. On Wednesday, despite posting 170 runs on the board they lost the match to Mumbai Indians by six wickets with 12 balls to spare. In their previous game, RCB made six changes.
Watson, who returned decent figures in RCB’s first two matches, proved ineffective against Mumbai as he was taken for 40 runs in four overs. Kohli’s two changes in the bowling department – Varun Aaron and Kane Richardson in place of Adam Milne and David Wiese – could not bring the desired result. Aaron and Watson along with Harshal Patel leaked too many runs and failed to take any wicket. However, left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla picked three wickets while Richardson claimed one.
Probable XI: Virat Kohli (captain), Shane Watson, AB de Villiers, Stuart Binny, Iqbal Abdullah, Kane Richardson, Varun Aaron, Harshal Patel, Travis Head, Lokesh Rahul, Sarfaraz Khan
Rising Pune Supergiants
Like RCB, Pune too are heavily banking on their batting unit which consists of Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and captain Dhoni himself. Barring Faf du Plessis, whose last three innings score read 34 vs MI, 69 vs Gujarat Lions and 67 vs Kings XI Punjab, no other batsman has clicked so far.
Dhoni, who generally persists with one set of players, is yet to find the right combination. In their previous match against KXIP, Thisara Perera and Irfan Pathan were included in place of Mitchell Marsh and RP Singh respectively, but both went wicketless. Their star bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ravichandaran Ashwin also failed to make any impact. Only Murugan Ashwin has done well and shown improvement with each match. He was their top bowler against KXIP, picking three wickets.
Probable XI: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Steven Smith, Thisara Perera, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Murugan Ashwin
“Pune is a great place to be based and a wonderful ground to play at. We are looking forward to playing exciting and hopefully successful brand of cricket,” — RPS head coach Stephen Fleming.
“In the first year I committed some mistakes in IPL. I want to avoid making the same mistakes I made last year,” — RCB batsman Sarfaraz Khan.