Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to give their forgettable campaign a semblance of respectability and spoil Rajasthan Royals’ faint playoffs hopes in the Indian Premier League at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Rajasthan, with 10 points from 12 games, still have a theoretical chance of making it to the playoffs provided they do not lose any of their remaining matches.
Also, they would require table-toppers Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals to defeat their respective opponents in their forthcoming games.
Pacer Jofra Archer and all-rounder Ben Stokes’ absence will add to Rajasthan’s pressure. Jos Buttler, who had 311 runs and three fifties in eight innings, had also returned to England to prepare for the World Cup.
The change in captaincy – replacing Ajnkya Rahane with Steve Smith – helped Rajasthan to an extent as this helped the India batsman roar back to form with an elegant century, albeit in a losing cause, against Delhi Capitals.
It also saw Rajasthan bring their campaign back on track by beating Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. The inaugural champions’ win at the Eden Gardens could galvanise their players to believe in themselves, after Ryan Parag led a dramatic late comeback.
They, however, still need to iron out a few flaws which have plagued them of late. The failure to grab key moments, which cost them the games against Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings, is one of them.
The biggest positive for Rajasthan has been Sherays Gopal, who, with his googlies, deceived Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer the last time these two teams faced. Sanju Samson, who had hit the first ton of this IPL, has been far from consistent. The Kerala batsman, however, regained his touch against during his side’s previous encounter.
Hosts RCB will be playing for pride after their hopes of entering the playoffs went up in smoke with their defeat to Delhi Capitals on Sunday. With their respective national teams, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith were at the epicentre of some spicy battles in the past. That may well resume with the three-time finallists having little to lose at this stage of the competition. Rajasthan will be encouraged by the fact that they enjoy a healthy winning record at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, having beaten RCB four times and losing just twice in eight visits.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shubham Ranjane, Ashton Turner, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Ish Sodhi, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Liam Livingstone, Varun Aaron, Shahshank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee.