Bengaluru: Table-toppers Rajasthan Royals need more from their fragile middle order as they look to return to winning ways against an inconsistent but dangerous Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL match here Sunday.
RR are currently leading the standings with eight points after four wins and two losses, while RCB are at the fifth spot with three victories and as many defeats.
But RR have plenty to ponder going by their performance in the last game against Lucknow Super Giants at home.
Chasing a gettable 155, RR were off to a great start with openers Yashasvi Jaiswal (44) and Jos Buttler (40) stitching 87 runs in 11.3 overs, before the middle-order crumbled to suffer a 10-run defeat.
In Jaiswal and Buttler, RR probably have the most potent opening pair and the duo has been delivering for the side this season. But it is the performance of the middle-order which has become a worry for RR.
Skipper Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer have scored runs but have not been consistent enough, and the team banks on them to close out games.
To make matters worse, Devdutt Padikkal and Riyan Parag have failed to live up to the expectations.
In the experienced Trent Boult and Sandeep Sharma, RR have good opening bowlers and they will have their task cut out against Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli.
In the spin department, Ravichandran Ashwin has impressed with his guile and tricks but Yuzvendra Chahal has been a tad expensive, and needs to lift his game.
Just like RR, RCB too boast of one of IPL’s most fearsome opening pairs in du Plessis and Kohli. The two are in form this season, handing RCB terrific starts.
They have so far raised two-century stands (148-run partnership against Mumbai Indians, 137 against Punjab Kings), besides adding 44 and 42 runs against Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals, respectively.
In the process, both du Plessis and Kohli have smashed four half-centuries each. However, Kohli would like to strike at a better rate.
Glenn Maxwell, too, has shown his hitting prowess in the tournament but has not been consistent enough. RCB would also be looking up to the likes of veteran Dinesh Karthik, Mahipal Lomlor, Shahbaz Ahmed and Suyash Prabhudessai in the middle-order.
RCB’s bowling attack is in the safe hands of Mohammed Siraj, who has been in sensational form, picking up 12 wickets from six games, including a four for 21 in their last match.
Siraj is being ably supported by Wayne Parnell and Harshal Patel, who have picked up eight wickets apiece from four and six games, respectively. But both these bowlers have been a tad expensive and they would look to address this concern in the coming matches.
RCB’s spin department is spearheaded by Sri Lankan Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, who looked impressive in his three outings so far.
Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (c), Abdul Basith, Murugan Ashwin, Ravichandran Ashwin, KM Asif, Trent Boult, Jos Buttler, KC Cariappa, Yuzvendra Chahal, Donovan Ferreira, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, Obed McCoy, Devdutt Padikkal, Riyan Parag, Kunal Singh Rathore, Joe Root, Navdeep Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Kuldeep Sen, Akash Vasisht, Kuldip Yadav, Adam Zampa.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis (c), Akash Deep, Finn Allen, Anuj Rawat, Avinash Singh, Manoj Bhandage, Michael Bracewell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Siddarth Kaul, Virat Kohli, Mahipal Lomror, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Wayne Parnell, Harshal Patel, Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajan Kumar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Karn Sharma, Himanshu Sharma, Sonu Yadav, Vijaykumar Vyshak, David Willey.
Match starts at 3:30 PM.