IPL 2018 Preview: Royal Challengers Bangalore look to set home record straight as they welcome Kings XI Punjab

Ashish Peter 13/04/2018
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RCB have their work cut out at home. Image - RCB/Twitter.

Two teams with contrasting fortunes in their opening games will lock horns in the IPL as Royal Challengers Bangalore host Kings XI Punjab at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Friday (18:30).

The Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers were dealt a four-wicket loss in their campaign opener against the Kolkata Knight Riders while Kings XI made short work of the Delhi Daredevils in their opening match.

The two outfits are among the three existing franchises to have never won the IPL and will be aiming to get their name on the trophy this year.

TALKING POINTS

BANGALORE’S HOME RECORD

Of the seven matches they played at home in 2017, the Royal Challengers managed to win just one. Their poor record at Benglaluru will be in focus as they play in front of their home fans this season.

The hosts will be banking on their star-laden top-order where the likes of Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers will be raring to go. It is in the middle-order and the bowling department where Kohli’s men look a little thin. Therefore, the pressure will be on the big boys to deliver.

KINGS XI LOOKING DANGEROUS

Having only retained one player in Axar Patel ahead of the 2018 auction, Kings XI have hit the reset button under the leadership of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

They started off brilliantly at home as KL Rahul’s fastest fifty in IPL put the Daredevils to the sword in Mohali. Ashwin and his men will be looking to carry that momentum into the Royal Challengers’ den where the pitch has aided the slower bowlers historically.

PLAYERS IN FOCUS

Former Royal Challengers crowd-favourite Chris Gayle will be in the opposing dugout come Friday. The swashbuckling Jamaican did not feature in Kings XI’s opening victory but he will be desperate to show his former employers what they missed out on by not retaining him for 2018.

Whether he gets the nod to feature in the playing XI remains to be seen but Bengaluru could be set for a ‘Gayle-storm’ if the left-hander is given the go ahead. The visitors will also be banking on Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s spin which was lethal in the win over Delhi.

Just 17, the Afghan spinner has it all when it comes to variations and could prove to be the find of the season.

For Bangalore, leg-spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal will be in focus after a listless performance in the defeat to Kolkata. He has an excellent record at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and will be the man to watch out for.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock (wk), Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Sarfraz Khan, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary, Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Axar Patel, Andrew Tye, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohit Sharma

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IPL 2018: Analysis of Kieron Pollard display in Mumbai Indians' narrow loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad

Ashish Peter 12/04/2018
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Pollard couldn't do enough to prevent a crushing loss.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians suffered their second-consecutive loss in the 2018 edition of the IPL as they succumbed to a one-wicket defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

A poor performance with the bat proved to be the undoing for Rohit Sharma’s men as they could post only 147-8 after batting first. Only three Mumbai batsmen crossed the 25-run mark with Kieron Pollard being one of them.

Here we take a closer look at Pollard’s 28-run cameo.

STATISTICS

RUNS SCORED: 28

BALLS FACED: 23

BOUNDARIES: 3

SIXES: 2

STRIKE-RATE: 121.73

30-SECOND REPORT

The West Indies all-rounder was called into bat within the first 10 overs itself after Mumbai lost early wickets and he started off in watchful manner before bringing out his trademark big hits pulled off with the minimum of efforts. Pollard’s innings was threatening to stage a late resurgence for the visitors before he was dismissed in bizarre fashion as he looked to check his shot.

GOT RIGHT

With Mumbai struggling for momentum after losing five wickets early, Pollard’s innings gave them a much-needed spark in the middle of the innings. The powerful unit that he is, the right-hander was circumspect at the start of his innings as he looked to get Mumbai’s innings back on track. He did not try to do too much, using his powerful shoulders and timings to find the boundaries without taking too many risks.

GOT WRONG

While there was plenty that Pollard got right, he threw it away at the most crucial of stages. With the final five overs approaching, Mumbai needed Pollard to stay until the very end to have any hopes of a huge total. However, despite being well set, the Trinidad man’s dismissal left much to be desired. He looked to check his punch shot against Billy Stanlake but such is the brute strength in those massive forearms that the ball carried all the way to Shikhar Dhawan at the sweeper-cover boundary.

VERDICT – 6/10

While Pollard did strike some massive blows with the bat in his short cameo, it wasn’t enough in the end as Hyderabad crept over the finishing line. With his undeniable talent to turn the game on its head, Mumbai needed a little more from their star man to have a chance after their top-order collapse. Even a couple more of Pollard’s lusty blows could have made a world of difference to the final outcome.

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IPL 2018: Mayank Markande triggers dramatic collapse and other talking points as Sunrisers Hyderabad pip Mumbai Indians in nail-biter

Ashish Peter 12/04/2018
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Hyderabad were made to sweat by young Markande in a modest chase.

Sunrisers Hyderabad continued their perfect start to the IPL 2018 campaign as they made it two wins out of two with a last-ball, one-wicket victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians on Thursday.

Playing their second-consecutive game on their home turf, Sunrisers’ bowlers once again came to the party as they restricted Mumbai Indians to 147-8 in their 20 overs. In reply, the hosts overcame a middle-order collapse before overcoming the visitors in a nail-biting finish.

Here, we look at the key talking points from the clash at Hyderabad.

ROHIT FAILS TO MAKE MOST OF REPRIEVE

Mumbai Indians would have got off to the most-disastrous-start possible were it not for a huge reprieve from Deepak Hooda. Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma played three dot balls to start off the hosts’ innings but he launched Sandeep Sharma’s fourth delivery high in the air over mid-on where Hooda made good ground to get to the ball.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad all-rounder however, failed to grasp on to the chance much to the relief of the home fans. Rohit’s joy though, was short lived as he flicked Aussie speedster Bill Stanlake straight into the hands of Shakib Al Hasan at square leg. Managing to score just 11 runs, it was a second-successive dismal outing for the skipper in the 2018 campaign after he perished for 15 in the tournament opener against Chennai Super Kings.

SUNRISERS HYDERABAD HAVE BEST BOWLING ATTACK IN IPL

When the squad lists took shape after the IPL auctions, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling attack was being touted as one of the best on paper. After their opening two matches, they are well on their way to crowning themselves as the best bowling attack in the tournament.

They had restricted Rajasthan Royals to just 125-9 in the previous match to set up a comfortable victory for the side. On Thursday, despite missing the indisputable leader of their bowling attack in Bhuvneshwar Kumar through an injury, they made Mumbai’s highly fancied batting line-up look ordinary.

With the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Billy Stanlake and Siddharth Kaul all playing their parts to perfection, it is becoming difficult to look beyond the Sunrisers as the favourites for the title.

RASHID KHAN COTNINUES TO LIGHT UP THE IPL

Coming into the tournament, Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was always going to be one to watch out for with his unquestionable credentials in T20 cricket. On Thursday, the teenager showed why he is so highly sought after as he put on an exhibition on how to master the art of T20 bowling.

Rashid’s express pace leg-spin was almost impossible for the Mumbai batsmen to navigate as his subtle variations kept dumbfounding them. The Afghan man bowled 18 dot deliveries in his four-over spell which is the joint highest by any spinner in IPL history.

Castling Ben Cutting’s stumps with a ripping googly, Rashid finished with excellent figures of 1-13 to give his side the upper hand.

MARKANDE THROWS SPANNER IN THE WORKS IN HYDERABAD’S CHASE

The home side were cruising in their chase of 148 with Shikhar Dhawan and Wriddhiman Saha going great guns at the top. Just when it looked like the hosts would run away with it, young Mayank Markande caused havoc with his leg-spin.

Playing in only his second IPL match, the 20-year-old removed Saha first up after reviewing a turned-down leg-before appeal. He then had the ominous looking Dhawan caught at the boundary ropes before deceiving Manish Pandey with the flight to make it three wickets from as many overs. He made it four in four soon after as he had Shakib chopping on to his stumps as Mumbai came roaring back into the clash.

His four strikes along with Mustafizur Rahman’s dismissal of Kane Williamson reduced the hosts to 107-5 from 62-0 to give the visitors a sniff of a chance in defending their paltry total.

HYDERABAD COLLAPSE IN A HEAP AMIDST MOUNTING PRESSURE

Despite a middle-order collapse, the hosts were still looking good for a win with Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan both getting off to a good start. At 136-5 with only 12 runs more to win in 15 balls, Hyderabad would have been favourites on any given day.

However, they lost the plot in 17th over with Pathan succumbing to Jasprit Bumrah’s short-ball. Rashid Khan joined Pathan in the dressing room in the very next delivery after being dismissed off a golden duck. There was more carnage to come in the 18th over as Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma both departing for ducks themselves to set up a roller-coaster of a final over.

A massive six off Hooda’s bat in the first delivery of the final over helped Hyderabad regain the edge before they won it off the final delivery of the match but not before the packed home support had been given an almighty scare.

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