Match 31 IPL 2017 (2017-04-27) @ Bangalore (MCS)
The Lions are bottom of the table with 2 wins from 7 matches. RCB are 1 point ahead but have played an extra match. It is crucial for both teams that they win this match to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
Last season these 2 teams were first and second in the table. This season they have both suffered from injuries to key players and poor performances from their bowlers.
Both teams have a very similar balance to their side. They have quality and experience in their top 3 batsmen, a decent number 4 batsman and not much else after that. RCB's bowling attack has been slightly better than The Lions but they have both been expensive. Both sides are struggling with their seam bowlers.
The match will come down to whether Kohli, Gayle, de Villiers and Jadhav can out score Finch, McCullum and Raina. So far RCB's top 4 have scored 618 runs with a combined average of 124 runs per innings compared to The Lion's 843 runs with a combined average of 130 runs.RCB are big favorites to win on Betfair. At the time of writing they are 1.73 with the Lions on 2.34. RCB are the better side in the Cricsq ratings and deserve to be favorites but I do not think they are value at 1.73. I have backed The Lions at 2.34 as the value bet.
RCB scored the worst total in IPL history on Sunday when they were bowled out by KKR for 49 runs inside 10 years. None of the batsmen could cope with the pressure from hostile fast bowling to Test cricket like fields.
The absence of form of Shane Watson leaves the RCB tail extremely long. Stuart Binny batted at 6 on Sunday. They are missing Rahul as a specialist Indian batsman this season.
Virat Kohli started the rot on Sunday when he was dismissed for a golden duck in the first over. He has 154 runs in 4 innings. His opening partner is Chris Gayle. Gayle looked clueless on Sunday crawling to 7 off 17 balls. To be fair there was little he could do as the wickets tumbled around him. He has 144 runs from 5 matches.
Mandeep Singh batted above de Villiers at 3. He has only 65 runs in 6 innings this season. His last three innings have seen scorers of 0, 0, and 1. De Villiers was back in the side on Sunday. He was out for 8 runs off 6 balls. He has 145 runs from 4 innings this season and is having problems with a sore back.
Kedar Jadhav is RCB's top run scorer with 175 runs in 7 innings. He has a strike rate of 159 runs per 100 balls. After Jadhav RCB is into the tail. Stuart Binny has managed just 77 runs from 6 innings. Pawan Negi just 35 runs from 4 innings.
RCB will have some confidence that they scored 213 against the Lions just over a week ago in Raijkot. The problem for them is if two of Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers do not perform the team collapses.
RCB will be pleased with their bowling on Sunday. They bowled KKR out in 19.3 overs for just 131 runs. At half-time they were hot favorites to win the match.
The 3 top wicket takers for RCB are spinners. Yuzvendra Chahal was exceptional on Sunday. He took 3 for 16 in his 3 overs. He has 10 wickets this season with an economy rate of 6.8. Badree got smashed for 18 in the opening over by Narine but recovered to take 1 for 15 off his final 3 overs. He has 6 wickets in just 3 matches with an economy rate of 6.2.RCB's third spinner is Pawan Negi. He took 2 for 15 off 3 overs on Sunday. Overall he has 6 wickets and is going at 6.1 runs an over.
Tymal Mills was back on Sunday as the overseas quick bowler. He took 2 for 31 off his 4 overs. He is preferred to Milne and Stanlake although they all have similar economy rates of 8.75 runs an over.
Sreenath Aravind and Stuart Binny are the preferred Indian seamers. Binny rarely bowls 4 overs. He has 3 wickets in 3 matches. Sreenath Aravind has taken 4 wickets in 5 matches with an economy rate of 9 an over.
Shane Watson has just 2 wickets in 5 matches and is going at 10.5 an over. He is also not getting any runs. He is not currently in the side with RCB preferring to go with 2 specialist batsmen and 2 specialist bowlers as their overseas players.
The Lions batting unit chased down 187 Kolkata with 14 balls to spare on last Friday. They then failed to chase down 188 against a much weaker Punjab bowling attack on Sunday.
Against Kolkata the openers got the chase off to a flying start. Finch scored 31 off 15 balls and McCullum scored 33 off 17. Suresh Raina then scored 84 off 46 to score the bulk of the rest of the runs required.
Against Punjab the openers were both dismissed early. McCullum got 6 from 6 balls and Finch scored 13 from 12. Raina fell to Axar Patel for 32 of 24. The innings never had to any momentum to reach the total. Karthik scored 58 from 44 but it was not until Tye came in at 8 and scored 22 from 12 balls that he got any support. It was all too little too late.
The top three are crucial to The Lion's batting. If they get off to a flyer they are competitive in matches. McCullum has 264 runs at a strike rate of 149. Finch has 114 runs with a strike rate of 154. Raina is The Lion's top run scorer with 275 runs at a strike rate of 146.
Dinesh Karthik has been batting well at 4. He has 190 runs at a strike rate of 137.
The Lions have a similar problem to RCB in that the middle order is not performing well. Ishan Kishan has 54 runs with a strike rate of 132. Dwayne Smith has just 94 runs in 7 innings. Jadeja has chipped in with 51 runs. None of these players have played a match winning innings for the team. I do not think Irfan Pathan is the solution. Last season he scored just 11 runs in 3 innings for Pune.
The Lions have used 14 bowlers this season in their quest to find the right combination and stem the flow of runs.
Andrew Tye is their standout bowler. He is their top wicket taker with 9 and has an economy rate of 7.5. Basil Thampi was impressive in his first few matches but has gone for 88 in his last 8 overs with no wickets.
Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni have both been very expensive this season. Kumar has gone for 10.5 an over and Kulkarni 11.3 an over. Last season their bowling helped The Lions to the top of the league when they both had economy rates under 8 an over.
Against Punjab Nathu Singh was introduced as another seam option. He took 1 for 7 in 2 overs before unfortunately getting injured. This left Dwayne Smith to ball an over at the death. This over cost The Lions 18 runs. Dwayne Smith has 2 wickets in 6 matches and has gone at 11.75 an over. Now that Dwayne Bravo is definitely out of the IPL Smith must be replaced by Faulkner to strengthen the seam bowling.
Jadeja is the main spin option for The Lions. He has just 2 wickets from 5 matches and an economy rate of 9.7 an over. He has bowled better in the last 2 matches going at under 8 an over. Shivil Kaushik has played 3 matches but gone at 9.6 an over. Shubham Agarwal was given a game against Punjab but he went for 42 runs in 4 overs. Raina should bowl himself more. He has a decent economy rate of 8.3.
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