After a dismal outing against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will be eager to get back on track when they take on an inconsistent Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their return fixture of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season at the Dubai International Cricket stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Though RCB remains static at third spot in the standings despite enduring an eight-wicket loss against KXIP on Thursday, Kohli and Co need to tighten their seat belts as the league is now into its second half.
RCB tinkered with the batting line-up against Punjab and it backfired completely. An in-form AB de Villiers was demoted to number six while Shivam Dube was promoted up the order. However, the ploy didn't work. Openers Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, skipper Kohli and De Villiers are in fine touch with the bat and the RCB team management needs to restore their factory settings against Royals as their experiments cost them two crucial points last time.
RCB's bowlers too faltered against KXIP but with the likes of Chris Morris, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Isuru Udana and Washington Sundar they are capable of making a comeback. Undoubtedly, the side has fired in unison so far barring the game against KXIP and once again they need to click as a unit.
On the other hand, the Steve Smith-led RR boasts of a strong batting line-up. However, Smith, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler have failed to keep the momentum going. Samson and Smith were clinical in their two outings earlier in Sharjah but a change in venue also saw a dip in their form. Buttler too has been unable to capitalise on his starts, managing a lone half-century from seven innings.
Ben Stokes, who has been promoted as opener, hit 41 after a dismal outing in his first game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The star all-rounder's consistency will be a key factor for RR in their journey ahead. It also seems RR is over-dependent on Rahul Tewatia in their middle-order. He has unquestionably rescued RR twice, against KXIP and Sunrisers Hyderabad, but failed against Delhi Capitals.
RR's bowling will once again be spearheaded by Jofra Archer, who has been quite effective so far while Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal will share the spin workload. Stokes's addition has also boosted their bowling attack and remains to be seen how quickly he gets into the act with Archer.
The last time these two sides squared-off in this season, Kohli and Co. came out victorious as they hammered RR by eight wickets in Abu Dhabi.
RCB: Virat Kohli (Captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa
RR: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Steven Smith (Captain), Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer