We look at five key battles that might decide the eventual outcome of this contest.
Chris Gayle vs Yuzvendra Chahal
The Universe Boss showed his class the last time these two sides met scoring an unbeaten 99 against his former franchise. However, the one bowler he couldn't go or rather chose not to go after was the wily leg-spinner Chahal. The leg-spinner, having bowled to Gayle numerous times in the RCB nets, knew exactly how to contain him, a feat bowlers from all over the world have failed to achieve.
In all, Gayle could only score 11 runs from 12 balls he faced off Chahal which included one four. Come Wednesday, Virat Kohli will once again want to target Gayle with his primary weapon and hope this time around Chahal dislodges the opener early.
Dale Steyn vs KL Rahul
In just two games, Steyn showed what Bangalore were missing in the tournament so far - raw pace upfront. The South African has been superb upfront often moving the ball at pace, bamboozling batsmen like he has done so many times in his career. His unplayable yorker to Suresh Raina in Bangalore's last outing against Chennai Super Kings was a sight to behold.
The 35-year-old will once be tasked to take wickets early. One of his main targets will be Rahul, who has been in delightful form this season. The second-highest scorer for Punjab, Rahul has the capability to turn a game on its head single-handedly but he will have to be careful against someone like Steyn, who gets the ball to move away from the right-hander.
Virat Kohli vs Mohammed Shami
There is probably no bowler in the world who can claim to have the wood over Kohli. But if there is one thing which fast bowlers off late have targeted is his area outside off stump. The compulsive driver of the ball that Kohli is, he often goes hard at anything outside off and has often been caught edging behind. This is probably an area which Shami can exploit.
The pacer has come leaps and bounds over the last few years in the shortest format of the game and can certainly cause a problem or two to Kohli. Shami was the one to get rid of Kohli the last time these two teams faced off and will once again be keen on getting his man.
Mayank Agarwal vs Navdeep Saini
In an otherwise insipid Bangalore bowling unit, the one pacer who has really impressed is Navdeep Saini. With the ability to clock over 150kph consistently, Saini has deceived the best in the business with his raw pace and accurate lengths. Despite India internationals Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav in the side, Saini has emerged as Kohli's pace spearhead. He has an economy of 7.68 so far this IPL, comfortably the best among the Bangalore pacers and will hold key early on the innings especially against someone like Agarwal.
The Punjab No.3 hasn't been in the best in the best of nicks this season having scored just two half-centuries in nine matches. Ashwin will certainly want his ace player to get some form back but Agarwal will have to be wary of Saini, especially early on his innings.
AB De Villiers vs R Ashwin
AB de Villiers hasn't always been his fluent self in the tournament but with four half-centuries has proven he still remains a vital cog in the Bangalore setup. He was instrumental in helping Bangalore notch up their win against Punjab with a 38-ball 59* and will once again be keen on getting some runs under his belt against his favourite opponents.
De Villiers holds a key position in the Bangalore batting unit tasked with getting the scoreboard moving in the middle-overs. But he will have to be careful against the spin of Ashwin. The Punjab captain did not let de Villiers get away the last time they met and will be hoping to dislodge him early this time around.
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First Published: April 24, 2019, 10:07 AM IST