If there is any such thing called home advantage in cricket, then the Royal Challengers Bangalore have used it to their benefit.
Five victories in five matches this season at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and RCB have shown that a partisan crowd and favourable conditions can play a huge difference even in an unpredictable format such as the T20.
The Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians have come close to breaching RCB’s fort, but Virat Kohli’s men have defended their bastion with ease. Much of it, of course, is because of the pitch that has been laid out here.
With RCB’s strength revolving around skipper Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, the excellent batting strip on offer has only helped their cause.
Kohli leads the race for the Orange Cap by a fair distance, having accumulated 322 runs, while Gayle is third with 257.
No wonder then that RCB are unconquered in their den.
Sticking to their strengths has been the franchise’s plan and Sri Lankan opener Tillakaratne Dilshan admitted as much. “Yes, definitely we know the conditions much better than other teams. We have played a lot of games here and we know how to adjust our batting on this wicket. We are also playing good cricket in all departments. That’s why we are winning,” he said.
On Tuesday, RCB’s winning streak looks set to be extend if one goes by the plight of their rivals. The Pune Warriors India, despite the variety and depth in their squad, have cut a sorry figure in the Indian T20 league. Two wins in seven matches means they are second from bottom and too much of a mix and match has not been helping their cause.
While the skipper’s cap has changed thrice so far, the bowling attack looks toothless. Aaron Finch’s influence with the bat has clearly shone through, but his shot at captaincy fell flat on Sunday.
The seven-wicket loss to Kings XI, where they chased down Pune’s 187 with not much difficultly shows their bowlers in poor light.
While it sure will bring a smile on the face of Kohli & Co, the Pune bowlers will have to mend their ways quickly on a batting-friendly surface.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has bowled well upfront, but Ashok Dinda has struggled with his rhythm. With domestic season’s highest-wicket taker, Ishwar Pandey, in the reserves, it would be wise for Pune to include the tall seamer for the evening encounter.
What makes it a even more one-sided contest is the fact that Pune haven’t managed to beat RCB even once since their inception, three years ago.
Nothing is going right for Pune at this stage, which makes the home team clear favourites.