Tuesday, September 26, 2023

IPL: RCB aim to extend winning spree as Mumbai eye comeback

Himalayan Paths

Bengaluru, May 10 (IANS) Having won two matches in a row, a confident Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will aim to maintain their winning momentum when they face Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League (IPL) tie at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.

The hosts staged a superb comeback after losing three consecutive matches with back to back wins against Rising Pune Supergiants and Kings XI Punjab. The home side will once again bank on their batting prowess led by Virat Kohli and South African veteran AB de Villiers to tackle the Mumbai bowling led by New Zealander Mitchell McCleneghan and Jasprit Bumrah.

With 561 runs in the tournament so far, including two centuries and four half tons, Kohli has been the cornerstone of RCB’s batting while his new opening partner Lokesh Rahul has been a revelation at the top of the order.

Bangalore probably boasts of having the strongest middle order in the tournament, comprising de Villiers and Australian Shane Watson, and Chris Gayle warming the bench. The Proteas dasher’s 35-ball 64 guided the team to a competitive 175 against Punjab on Monday.

The home side, however, needs to focus on their bowling which has failed to defend 180-plus scores in most of the matches. Apart from Watson and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, the trio of Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron and Chris Jordan have all leaked runs.

Currently lying at a lowly sixth position in the points table, a win will be crucial for the Virat Kohli-led side to keep their hopes of making the IPL play-offs alive.

On the other hand, fifth placed Mumbai will be hoping to bounce back after the humiliating loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous encounter.

The visitors would want to put behind their nightmarish 85-run loss in their previous outing and hope for the opening combo of Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel to fire. Both Rohit and Parthiv have been in good nick individually but failed to put up a decent opening stand so far in the tournament.

The last time the two teams met, Mumbai had defeated Bangalore, and the Rohit Sharma-led side would hope to repeat the feat.

Apart from Rohit and Parthiv, the middle order comprising Ambati Rayudu, Keiron Pollard and all-round duo of Krunal and Hardik Pandya are also expected to come good.

Mumbai’s bowling largely centres around Kiwi McClenaghan, who with 14 wickets so far is third in the top-wicket takers’ list while Bumrah and Tim Southee have taken 11 and seven wickets, respectively to be the next best bowlers.

Veteran Harbhajan Singh, who leads the spin bowling department along with Krunal, will however have to put on an improved performance if they aim to contain the in-form RCB batting line-up on Wednesday.

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