Virat Kohli believes it may end up being a good thing that his Royal Challengers Bangalore side got their horror batting show out of the way early in the season. Batting collapses don’t come much more dramatic than 70 all out in the very first match of the IPL season, so perhaps he’s right – the only way to go is up.
There’s no doubt that RCB will be smarting from that defeat against Chennai Super Kings, though, and Kohli will be determined to set things right on Thursday. They can’t afford for one loss to become two and then the season snowballing into a disaster, like last year. Being back in front of their home crowd should help – as should the traditional early-season form of their opponents.
Mumbai Indians are notoriously slow starters, and they in fact probably won’t go into panic mode even if they lose a second straight game to start their season. There’s still a doubt over the availability of Jasprit Bumrah, who gave all of India an injury scare on Sunday when, off the last ball of Mumbai’s bowling innings, he went tumbling to prevent a single and came up clutching his shoulder. He didn’t come out to bat during the Indians’ chase, though that was precautionary given that the game was far too gone for a No11 to come in.
But though the injury has proven to be a minor one, with Bumrah having taken part in fielding drills and bowled in the nets, it’s not certain whether he will be in XI to take on his national team captain.
Kohli vs Bumrah may or may not happen, but there’s plenty of intrigue all around. Parthiv Patel was in Mumbai colours until the Royal Challengers picked him up at the auction ahead of last season, while any duel involving AB de Villiers is a must-watch.
The key duel may end up being the one between the two captains. There’s been growing talk in India, if still in hushed tones, that Rohit Sharma, the national team’s vice-captain, is a better tactician than Kohli, and though no one is suggesting a change this game definitely provides Sharma a chance to prove his chops.
Both sides, of course, are looking for improved performances from key players, with Mumbai’s Pandya brothers, Krunal and Hardik, delivering an under-par performance in their loss to Delhi Capitals while all of RCB’s batsmen will be under scrutiny. Meanwhile, there’ll be plenty of eyes on how well Indians middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh can perform against his former team, having opened the season with an eye-catching 50 against Delhi.
Even with their batting collapse, it’s unlikely Bangalore will make any changes to their XI, and the same is expected of Mumbai – though young Kashmiri pacer Rasikh Salam didn’t have the best of debuts, and his spot could be vulnerable.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), Moeen Ali, Moeen Ali, AB de Villiers, Shimron Hetmeyer, Shivam Dube, Colin de Grandhomme, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Rasikh Salam, Jasprit Bumrah (subject to fitness)
Know more about Sport360 Application