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IPL 2018: Royal Challengers Bangalore aim to carry momentum in virtual shootout with Rajasthan Royals

Brimming with confidence after three consecutive victories, Royal Challengers Bangalore face Rajasthan Royals in a must-win IPL 2018 clash at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur on Saturday.

cricket Updated: May 18, 2018 18:53 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
IPL 2018,Royal Challengers Bangalore,Rajasthan Royals
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals face off in a must-win IPL 2018 clash for both sides on Saturday.(BCCI )

It has been a topsy-turvy ride for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018.

Virat Kohli & Co had a horrible start to their campaign and with just three wins from nine games, reaching the playoffs looked like a distant dream. However, they have bounced back brilliantly with three consecutive victories and will be brimming with confidence when they take on Rajasthan Royals in a must-win clash at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Saturday.

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The biggest factor behind RCB’s resurgence has been the performances of AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. The duo slammed impressive half centuries to help their team chase down a challenging target set by Delhi Daredevils, while against Kings XI Punjab, Kohli made short work of the modest target with an unbeaten 48. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kohli fell to Rashid Khan for just 12 but it was De Villiers’ moment to shine as the Proteas batsman scored 69 off 39 balls to pave the way for his team’s victory.

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The other positive for RCB in these three games has been their bowling and the biggest example of that came against Kings XI Punjab when they bowled out their opponents for just 88. The bowlers have performed well in death overs too.

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Umesh Yadav, who took three wickets in that game, has been the pick of RCB bowlers with 17 wickets in 13 games and it is no surprise that skipper Virat Kohli is quite confident ahead of Saturday’s crucial encounter.

“Going into our last three games, we had our backs against the wall. (But now) The team’s feeling great and we certainly have the momentum,” he said.

Life without Buttler

Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, lost their last game, against Kolkata Knight Riders, and will be without their star batsman Jos Buttler who will miss the rest of the tournament due to national team commitments.

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Buttler has been the heart and soul of RR batting with five half centuries in the last six games and his absence will be a huge blow for the side which desperately needs a win to quality for the playoffs. D’Arcy Short is the likely replacement for the England international, but he has not performed that well this season with just 115 runs under his belt from 7 matches.

The over-reliance on Buttler has been a major issue for RR and that was exposed against KKR when they were bowled out for 142. Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson have been inconsistent. With Stuart Binny and Krishnappa Gowtham too performing only in patches, the middle-order batting remains a serious concern for RR ahead of Saturday’s encounter.

What is at stake

RR vs RCB: The match will be a virtual shootout although the winner will still have to depend on the results of other games as well as net run rate. While both hosts Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore are on 12 points with one game left, Virat Kohli’s boys have a better net run rate and a victory will give them a strong chance. Rajasthan Royals need to win by a decent margin to improve their net run rate and bring them in a safe zone from where they can seriously hope to advance.

First Published: May 18, 2018 18:03 IST