As Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiants take on each other
As Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiants take on each other at Pune, they find themselves riding in a similar boat. Both began their campaign on an impressive note, having won their opening matches, but have slipped since, losing their next two games. That's not all, their department woes are also similar. While both sides are strong in the batting, bowling is a big Achilles Heel for both RCB and Pune, although it must be said that Pune have some work to do in the batting department as well. When the teams face each other at Pune on Friday, their main objective will be to set things in order, and get their bumbling campaign back on the right track.
Pune began their IPL campaign with an impressive show against defending champions Mumbai Indians, a game they won with consummate ease. But, they have failed to carry on the momentum into subsequent games. They were defeated by the other IPL debutants Gujarat Lions, and were then shocked by Kings XI Punjab in their next encounter. Ajinkya Rahane got the team off to a confident start in the opener, but since hasn't been able to repeat his heroics. Come to think of it, it has only been Faf du Plessis, who has displayed consistency with the bat. The big names like Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and skipper MS Dhoni himself need to stand up.
Pune's bowling has undergone some changes, but they haven't found the right combination yet. Thisara Perera came in for Mitchell Marsh in the last game, but it did not make much of a difference. Irfan Pathan's inclusion in place of RP Singh also did not prove fruitful. Pune have struggled because Ishant Sharma has continued to fail with the ball, when he should be delivering the goods. Although Murugan Ashwin has done decently, Pune have been hurt in a big way as Ravichandran Ashwin hasn't looked anywhere close to the bowler that he is.
Bangalore's problems run parallel to those of Pune although the one big advantage that they have is that their batting is living up to its potential. Chris Gayle is likely to miss the contest against Pune as well, but that shouldn't matter much to the team for AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli have been in scintillating form. Shane Watson and Sarfaraz Khan also have got the quick runs towards the end of the innings. Lokesh Rahul has big shoes to fill in place of Gayle. He struggled in unfamiliar circumstances in the last game. It remains to be seen whether RCB persist with him.
It is in the bowling that Bangalore have been faltering. In the last game, Varun Aaron and Kane Richardson came in for David Wiese and Adam Milne. But, it did not make much of a difference as runs continued to flow off their bowling. Harshal Patel has also struggled to make any kind of impression. With Samuel Badree now officially ruled out of the IPL, Bangalore would hope that Yuzvendra Chahal picks up his game. He hasn't been at his best this season. Looking at the combination and recent performances of the two sides, the result of the contest could very well be decided by which team bowls better under pressure.