The first qualifier of the 2016 IPL pits debutants Gujarat Lions against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Heard that before? Well, these two teams met at the same venue during the league stages and what transpired that day was something that will be tough to forget for a long time. Virat Kohli smashed his third ton in IPL, AB de Villiers notched up this season’s highest individual score (129), RCB racked up the second-highest team total in IPL and Gujarat Lions plummeted to the worst defeat (144 runs) in the tournament’s history.
Gujarat might have topped the standings with 18 points, but they will start as the underdogs against a marauding Kohli and Co. and it will take a special effort from the likes of Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and captain Suresh Raina to overcome the batting might of RCB. However, Kohli’s team cannot commit the mistake of undermining a Gujarat unit that boasts IPL behemoths Raina and McCullum. What has carried Gujarat to the playoffs is their settled squad and on their given day, their top-order can shred any attack to pieces.
The bowling unit, led by Dhawal Kulkarni and Dwayne Bravo would know that it will boil down to two good balls that could yield the wickets of Kohli and de Villiers and the RCB’s middle-order might be under the pump. There will also be the threat of Chris Gayle, who got back to form with a 73-run knock in RCB’s penultimate game against Kings XI Punjab. Bangalore’s bowling has been their weakest link that has been masked very well by Kohli’s superlative batting and effective cameos by others. But against Delhi Daredevils, the bowlers stepped up to the plate and that should give enough confidence to the partisan Bangalore crowd to see their team reach the final for the third time in the tournament’s history.
Date: May 24, 2016
Time: 20:00 (IST)
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Weather: Partly cloudy evening with temperature touching 30 degree Celsius
Royal Challengers Bangalore
There has not been any news of fitness concerns from either camps, and for RCB they have motored along during the final stretch of the league stages. Iqbal Abulla might make way for Varun Aaron as Kohli has preferred to play an extra spinner in Bangalore.
Probable XI: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 KL Rahul (wk), 5 Shane Watson, 6 Stuart Binny, 7 Sachin Baby, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 S Aravind, 10 Iqbal Abdulla/Varun Aaron, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
In order to stop the RCB batting juggernaut, Gujarat might be tempted go in with an extra bowling option, but that would mean the management will have to take the tough decision of benching one of their four overseas players, all of whom are in good form. James Faulkner can be a tough customer to deal with, but it is highly unlikely that Gujarat will take that bold decision. Eklavya Dwivedi has featured in two games for Gujarat but has not had a bat. In a crunch game like this, the management might fall back on Ishan Kishan in the lower-order.
Probable XI: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Suresh Raina (capt), 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Dwayne Smith, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Eklavya Dwivedi/Ishan Kishan, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Dhawal Kulkarni, 11 Shadab Jakati
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