For the uninitiated — unlikely though — Virat Kohli is back and ready to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) against Mumbai Indians on Friday’s early-opener slated to be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Having lost two out of three games so far, Captain Kohli’s return is a big boost to the RCB camp desperate to get back to winning days.
Contrary, Mumbai Indians come into the game with a convincing win over defending IPL champions Sunrisers Hyderabad — defeated by four wickets.
Statistically, Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai will enter RCB’s den with a handy cushion of victories of the past. RCB has lost six out of seven games against MI in front of their home crowd in the IPL so far.
A win over MI today will be a fitting script for Virat Kohli on his arrival in Bengaluru.
For the first time in this IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore will be starting a game with all the big three — Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers — at their disposal.
Sitting at the bottom of the points table (6), RCB is evidently seen struggling — lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by 35 runs, won over Delhi Daredevils by 15 runs, lost to Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets — in their first three games so far; will be delighted to play against MI with their best team.
AB de Villiers who joined RCB in their last game against Kings XI Punjab — smashed an unbeaten 89 off 46 balls — got straight to business in his homecoming match after recovering from back injury.
Kohli’s return will also ease pressure off Shane Watson — Captained RCB in absence of Kohli — to concentrate on playing more freely and contributing to the teams’ growth in the tournament.
Coach Daniel Vettori will be a little worried about not having enough strength in their bowling unit. The team has looked vulnerable despite good scores at hand, courtesy to RCB bowlers leaking runs at crucial points of the game.
Both Vettori and Kohli will have to get back to the drawing board and craft a way to fix the problem.
While Billy Stanlake and Tymal Mills look strong, they seem to be delivering in patches and lack consistency in Indian conditions. Virat will have to use his bowlers efficiently.
The mainstay of RCB is their formidable batting line-up that can bat deep till down the order. RCB will require all of them to fire to get back in the IPL which so far is simply racing away from them.
Riding solely on their middle-order and fine bowling performances, Mumbai Indians come in the game with heads held high with two back to back wins over KKR and SRH.
Besides his poor batting, Captain Rohit Sharma will also be aware of Mumbai’s 11-8 score against Royal Challengers in the IPL.
Rohit Sharma’s form — 9 runs from 3 matches — is clearly a cause of worry for Mumbai and the coach Mahela Jayawardene.
Sharma’s dismal performance so far points to only one direction — there might be a calling to rest the skipper for a couple of games.
The naturally-gifted, right-handed Mumbai batsman needs to step up his game and contribute with the blade. Sharma’s rise is very imperative if the team needs to retain the glittering IPL trophy.
While, Mumbai’s top order Parthiv Patel and Jos Butler — batting well so far — is playing fine, they need to convert their good starts into a big total; Nitish Rana is the only beacon of hope in the middle order so far.
One of them needs to play a big inning and help team compile a competitive score. More importantly with Rohit Sharma, K Pollard not firing and Ambati Rayudu still recovering from the injury — against Pune — Pandya brothers can use a good start as a base for the late onslaught.
With Lasith Malinga back to the side, Mumbai bowling line up looks well for the RCB batsman. Jasprit Bumrah, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga have looked sharp so far.
It’s the Mitchell McClenaghanwere who has been a little expensive — three wickets for 129 runs in three games — can be replaced by Mitchell Johnson or Tim Southee.
RCB’s home turf M Chinnaswamy Stadium has smaller boundaries and is a batting feast. The team winning the toss will prefer to chase and use the dry conditions in the second innings. With all the big faces back in the RCB squad, expect a full house even at 1600 hours.
Mumbai Indians will want to continue their good run both in the IPL and against RCB.
Scores over 200 have been successfully chased at five occasions here; simpler to say it’s an early Friday release at Chinnaswamy!
Virat Kohli (c), S Aravind, Avesh Khan, S Badree, STR Binny, YS Chahal, A Choudhary, AB de Villiers, P Dubey, CH Gayle, TM Head, Iqbal Abdulla, KM Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, TS Mills, AF Milne, P Negi, HV Patel, Sachin Baby, T Shamsi, B Stanlake, Vishnu Vinod, SR Watson
Team Mumbai Indians:
Rohit Sharma (c), JJ Bumrah, JC Buttler, S Gopal, K Gowtham, DAS Gunaratne, Harbhajan Singh, MG Johnson, K Khejroliya, SD Lad, MJ McClenaghan, SL Malinga, HH Pandya, KH Pandya, PA Patel, KA Pollard, N Pooran, DS Punia, N Rana, AT Rayudu, JM Sharma, KV Sharma, LMP Simmons, TG Southee, J Suchith, SN Thakur, SS Tiwary, R Vinay Kumar