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Bubble, bubble, toil & trouble...

cricket Updated: Mar 18, 2010 01:26 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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Anil Kumble is going to have a fresh problem on his hands when his team takes on the Rajasthan Royals. For once, they go into a game overwhelming favourites, on a high from their triumph over the Kings XI.

Kumble is an old hand and will know how quickly the game can bring you down to earth, but youngsters like Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey might still be walking in the clouds when Shane Warne begins to work his magic.

It would be a mistake for the Royal Challengers to think they can pick up from where they left off, especially given the revolving-door nature of this tournament where every day brings you face-to-face with a new opponent.

For three reasons, though, the Royal Challengers will fancy their chances.

Graeme Smith, the mainstay of the Rajasthan batting, is returning home with a fractured finger. Dimitri Mascarenhas, who plays the all-rounder's role with his seam up bowling and occasional big hitting in the absence of Shane Watson, misses out with a twisted ankle.

Yusuf Pathan popped a shoulder after Rajasthan's last game, and is a doubtful starter. This triple strike has brought Rajasthan to their knees, challenging Warne to dig deeper for fresh strategies.

If Bangalore have one concern it is the bowling of Dale Steyn, who has been unable to play the role of strike bowler, and has bled runs. Jacques Kallis, who batted to perfection, seemed hell bent on attacking batsmen with the short ball and this too backfired.

For Kumble, the tricky decision is whether to use Steyn with the new ball, purely for impact, or allow him to operate after the field restrictions are off, in a more containing role.

The pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, topped up with soil from the nearby district of Mandya, proved to be perfect for batting.

With very little lateral movement for the quick bowlers and negligible purchase for the seamers, bowling will continue to be demanding. With summer well on its way and the mercury creeping up, there's hardly any moisture in the air, making swing hard to come by.

This could reduce contests to batting slugfests.