Bangalore: After registering a facile win over Rajasthan Royals, table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to continue their winning streak when they face Pune Warriors in Game 31 of IPL 6 on Tuesday. A confident RCB are on a roll after winning five matches they have played at home this season and would not want to fritter away their best chance to gain two more vital points here.
Unlike the previous IPL seasons, RCB have managed to get rid of the tag of being over-dependent on explosive batsman Chris Gayle, with captain Virat Kohli emerging as the tournament’s top run-getter so far. While Gayle has 257 runs under his belt from seven matches, Kohli has racked up 322 runs in as many games, studded with three half-centuries.
The home side has come good despite Gayle misfiring thanks to the class of AB de Villiers joining hands with Kohli to see the team through. Unlike last year, when he struggled to get runs, captain Kohli has been in great form and is already the Orange Cap holder. De Villiers has been the perfect foil to Gayle and Kohli, playing second fiddle to both the in-form batsmen.
The other Indian players, other than Kohli and medium-pacer Vinay Kumar, have not contributed enough for Bangalore. Mayank Agarwal, Lokesh Rahul and Arun Karthik, all of who have had their opportunities, have failed to deliver. Tillakaratne Dilshan made a return and did not disappoint as he help lay a match-winning 53-run partnership with Gayle for the first wicket in the previous game against Rajasthan.
As far as the RCB bowling is concerned, barring a couple of hiccups against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings, they have come up with fine performances. Vinay, RP Singh, Ravi Rampaul, in the absence of Zaheer Khan, have taken up the responsibility to provide wickets for Bangalore at crucial junctures. And with RCB registering a clinical win in their last outing it is unlikely that Kohli would make any changes to the side.
On the other hand, batting problems have plagued PWI who were handed another defeat by Kings XI Punjab in their last match. Pune’s top guns - Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Angelo Mathews and Marlon Samuels - haven’t fired regularly. The exception has been Aaron Finch who has scored an aggregate of 211 runs in five matches with three half-centuries.
Pune put ordinary performances other than a couple of wins from seven matches, which has pushed them down to eighth spot ahead of just Delhi Daredevils. On the bowling front, legspinner Rahul Sharma has been the pick of Pune’s attack and has got good support from Bhuvneshwar, though Ashok Dinda and Abhishek Nayar need to do better.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Mayank Agarwal, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 Ravi Rampaul, 8 Vinay Kumar, 9 Muttiah Muralitharan, 10 RP Singh, 11 Jaydev Unadkat
Pune Warriors India: 1 Robin Uthappa (wk), 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Yuvraj Singh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Luke Wright, 6 Abhishek Nayar, 7 Mithun Manhas, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Rahul Sharma, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Ajantha Mendis