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IPL 2018: Virat Kohli aims to fire for Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals

Royal Challengers Bangalore will aim for consistency from top order batsmen when they take on 2008 champions Rajasthan Royals at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

cricket Updated: Apr 14, 2018 18:34 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Bangalore
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League 2018,Virat Kohli
Royal Challengers Bangalore got their campaign back on track with a win over Kings XI Punjab and they will be determined to maintain their consistency in their next clash against Rajasthan Royals. (PTI)

Royal Challengers Bangalore will seek more batting efficiency from a settled side when they take on former champions Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

Virat Kohli’s side whetted the appetite of their fans with a four-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab in their first home game of IPL 2018 on Friday. They extended the trend of home teams, and those chasing a target, dominating this edition with that eventually comfortable win.

However, the India skipper, who missed most of IPL 2017 due to shoulder injury, will look to produce a knock of impact after being dismissed for 31 and 21. He was caught out by spin in both games, stunned by a googly from Kings XI Punjab’s teenaged Afghan spinner, Mujeeb ur Rahman, to be bowled on Friday.

He will be keen to ensure RCB find the old batting swagger to go with a rejuvenated bowling attack led by strike bowler Umesh Yadav, after requiring AB de Villiers’ aggressive 57 to seal the chase against KXIP.

Former champions Rajasthan Royals are equal on points with RCB – a win and loss – but their lack of composure exposed a disjointed batting line-up in both games.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who took over after Steve Smith was banned for the ball-tampering scandal on the South Africa Test tour, will have to lead by example but is yet to show the aggression a T20 opener must.

To add to the problems of the 2008 champions mentored by Shane Warne, the other opener, Australia’s D’Arcy Short, was run out cheaply in both the games.

STOKES FACTOR

Rajasthan Royals have England all-rounder Ben Stokes – the most expensive player of IPL 2018 – and the most expensive Indian player – left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat – but they will have to produce something special if they are to upstage RCB on a small ground.

A Stokes versus Virat Kohli battle will spice up the contest, but RR will also hope their biggest star can deliver with the bat too. Ben Stokes got a start in the win over Delhi Daredevils in a rain-hit game at No 3, but RR may have to shuffle the top-order on Sunday.

Rahul Tripathi, the Maharashtra batsman, delivered the goods for the Steve Smith-led Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL 2017 after being promoted as opener. In his first season in IPL 2017, Tripathi scored 391 runs with a strike rate of 146.44, playing many useful knocks as the defunct side ended runners-up. This season he has batted at No 5 and 6, and has not sparkled.

RCB will be happy with Rajasthan Royals’ batting issues as its bowling attack can dominate.

England pacer Chris Woakes, who played for Kolkata Knight Riders last season, has five wickets but has struggled bowling in the powerplay overs, and has an economy rate of almost 10.

Against KXIP, KL Rahul targetted him with two sixes and a four in the first over that cost 16 runs. He bore the brunt of Sunil Narine’s pinch-hitting against KKR, going for 20 runs in the fourth over of the innings at Eden Gardens.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 18:32 IST