Match 20 IPL 2017 (2017-04-18) @ Rajkot (SCAS)
Last season RCB won 2 of the 3 matches between these two sides. A great innings by AB de Villiers won the crucial play-off match that got RCB into the final. In this fixture last year a Virat Kohli century was not enough to stop the Lions winning.
These two teams have both had a terrible start to the season. RCB have won just 1 match from 5 games. They were missing AB and Kohli at the start of the season. Their return has not helped the teams' results with 2 loses in the matches since they have both been back.
The Lions have also struggled. They have just had the 1 win which was against RPS on Friday. It took a perfect storm of batting second, an Andrew Tye hat-trick and blistering opening partnership to allow them to win.
6 of the 7 matches played at Rajkot have been won by the team batting second. This apparent bias could be caused by the fact that the Lions have had a strong batting line-up with weak bowling last season and so far this season.
RCB are favorites to win trading at between 1.8 and 1.9 on Betfair. The two teams are very close on the Cricsq ratings. RCB are rated 84 and the Lions 82. With the Lions having home advantage and a more in form batting line-up I have backed them early to win.
The Lions have 4 overseas opening batsmen in their squad. The first two matches all 4 were picked. The Lions lost both of those matches. In the third match Tye replaced Jason Roy as an overseas player. Dwayne Smith moved up to opening with McCullum. Roy was back in the team in the fourth match when Finch's kit was lost in transit.
The Lions are not short of runs. Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina have both scored over 100 runs in the competition so far. Raina has a strike rate of 124 and Karthik has a strike rate of 145. Ishan Kishan played his first match against Mumbai. He scored 11 off 14 balls but should get another chance to help the balance of the side.
Of the overseas batsmen McCullum has done the best scoring 153 runs at a strike rate of 139. Smith has replaced Roy as opener. He has scored 84 runs at 142 in 4 innings. Roy has 59 runs in 3 innings. It is a waste playing one of these two batsmen at 6. Roy only faced 7 balls coming in at 6 against Mumbai. Finch has only scored 51 runs.
Now that Jadeja is back batting at 7 the Lions should consider playing Faulkner at 6. He is more than capable of scoring quick runs off a few balls at the end of an innings and will strengthen the balling. When Dwayne Bravo is fit he will fulfil this role.
The Lions bowling attack was strengthened after the first 2 matches by the introduction of Andrew Tye to replace one of the overseas batsmen. In just 2 games he is their top wicket taker on 7. He is also their most economical bowler going at just 6.38 an over.
If Dwayne Bravo is still injured the Lions should consider playing Faulkner to strengthen the bowling further.
The Lions need more from their top Indian bowlers. Jadeja has not found form after his return from injury. He has only taken 1 wicket and gone for 9.2 an over. Praveen Kumar has also been poor this season only taking 3 wickets and going for 10.2 an over. Dhawal Kulkarni has gone for 13 an over and failed to take a wicket.
Basil Thampi and Shivil Kaushik has been more economical going at around 8.5 an over. But unless the Lions top bowlers from last year start to perform they are going to struggle this season.
RCB's success is 2016 was mainly due to big partnerships between Kohli and de Villiers. Kohli scored 973 runs and de Villiers 687. Their third top scorer was Rahul who made 397 runs. He is out injured for the season. Chris Gayle scored 227 runs in 2016 but is badly out of form.
De Villiers missed the first 2 matches and Kohli the first 3. Since their returns to the team they have each managed one 50. For RCB to do well they need Kohli and de Villiers to perform as well as they did last year.
Mandeep Singh has played in many different positions in the batting order already this season. If RCB choose not to play Chris Gayle he should open the batting with Kohli. He has looked in good touch but only scored 64 runs.
The middle is an area of concern for RCB. Kedar Jadhav started the season well with scores of 31 and 69. His form has tailed off with 1, 9 and 18 in the last 3 matches. Shane Watson has only managed 61 runs at a slow strike rate of 97 runs per 100 balls. Binny and Negi have also not contributed much yet.
RCB moved from playing one overseas Bowler to 2 after the first match.
Badree has been good in the 2 matches he has played. He has 5 wickets and has only gone at 5.1 an over. Fellow spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Pawan Negi have also bowled well. Chahal has taken 4 wickets at 7.3 runs an over. Negi has 3 wickets and has gone for 7.1 an over.
Tymal Mills has been leading the seam attack. He has taken 3 wickets but gone for 9 runs an over. Milne was given a chance against RPS and did well taking 2 for 27 in his 4 overs. Stanlake has also been given an opportunity going at 8.7 an over and taking 2 wickets.
The local seamers tried are Sreenath Aravind, Aniket Choudhary and Stuart Binny. Choudhary was expensive in the one match he played in, going at 14 an over. Aravind has taken 2 wickets and been economical going at only 7.8 an over. Binny has taken 2 wickets and gone for 8 an over.
A concern for RCB is the form of Shane Watson. He has only scored 61 runs and is going for 10.3 an over when he bowls. RCB need him to start contributing as the all-rounder in the side. If he does not and is left out of the team the balance of the side is compromised.
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