Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to stabilise its capricious Indian Premier League (IPL) form when it takes on Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Monday.
Though two games do not form an adequate-enough sample size to examine credentials, the wild shift in the franchise’s performance will not go unnoticed. Where RCB thrashed Mumbai Indians by eight wickets in its opening fixture at home, it capitulated against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens by a mammoth 81 runs.
KKR spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy bamboozled famed batters like Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell. LSG has a fine spin combination comprising Ravi Bishnoi, Krunal Pandya and the wily veteran Amit Mishra, and though they are not of the ‘mystery’ variety from Kolkata, RCB will need to be careful.
The loss of speedster Reece Topley for the rest of the season will hurt RCB but David Willey’s excellent show against KKR (4-1-16-2) means captain du Plessis has cover. However, the pace duo of Mohammed Siraj and Akash Deep, which collectively leaked 74 runs from six overs, needs to tighten up.
K.L. Rahul’s LSG comes into the match with two wins from three outings, with the latest a five-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad on what was a slow and low track in Lucknow. But the traditionally batter-friendly Chinnaswamy – and its small boundaries – should be to the visitors’ liking too.
Explosive batters like Kyle Mayers, who has already scored two fifties, Quinton de Kock, who has returned from South Africa and is available for selection, and Nicholas Pooran should relish the conditions.
Rahul has thus far played a steady hand but is more than capable of turning it on when required. Wouldn’t he love to come good at a venue so dear to him and against a side in whose colours he made his IPL debut?