It’s an early battle for the wooden spoon when the Gujarat Lions host the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 20th game of the 2017 Indian Premier League at Rajkot. Suneer Chowdhary analyses and previews the game while Shruti Chopra gives her prediction for it. Listen to them right here or read excerpts of this preview.
These are the only two teams in the competition with just two points apiece, having won a game each. While the Lions have played four games, Bangalore’s only win has come in five matches and that has left them struggling in the competition to a large extent. Another defeat for either team and it would leave them needing a lot to be done in the second half of the season.
Let’s begin with the Gujarat Lions first and after having lost two games to a poor strategy of stuffing their side with four overseas batsmen, they final realised their folly and changed things around against the Rising Pune Supergiant. Out went Jason Roy and Andrew Tye was brought in – and what an IPL debut he had. Five wickets in his four-over spell including a hat-trick restricted Pune to 171, before Gujarat romped home to a win on 40s from Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum.
Strangely for the Lions, their woes didn’t end there – they lost Aaron Finch to one of the most bizarre reasons possible; his kit did not arrive at Mumbai, leaving him benched and Jason Roy was brought in. And then, for some reason, when Suresh Raina was dismissed in the 12th over, they opted to send in rookie youngster Ishan Kishan instead of pushing Roy up the order.
Kishan scored 11 from 14 and it was only Dinesh Karthik’s 26-ball 48 that saw the side through to what looked like a decent score of 176 in a day game at Wankhede. It was not to be – Tye chipped in with a couple more wickets but every other bowler went for more than 8.5 an over to leave them without any points.
Bangalore now and their story has been no different from the previous season and that’s where they will take their heart from – last year, they had just two wins from their first seven games, so they still have two games to register their second win. Jokes aside, captain Virat Kohli made a pointed reference to this in his chat at the end of the game against Rising Pune Supergiant when he said they cannot repeat their histrionics every season and I quote, “don’t deserve to win if they don’t play with intent.”
The one obvious difference has been the slow nature of the Bangalore pitch which has made life difficult for their batsmen as opposed to what has been the case in the previous seasons. Chasing has become tougher and that should push Kohli and co. into re-evaluating their tactics when they return back home for their matches, but here’s the deal – this game will be hosted at Rajkot and the surface there is a flat one, much like the original M Chinnaswamy surface, so it might not be a bad idea to bring Chris Gayle back with AB de Villiers, Tymal Mills and Samuel Badree as their four overseas players.
I am not convinced about Shane Watson as a preference ahead of Gayle or if he’s not in form, then even Travis Head is an option. Other than that, I am surprised at the way the side has changed their openers, almost like one changes one tee-shirts on a day on day basis – five games, five different opening combinations and one hopes that Kohli sticks with Mandeep Singh at the top of the order if he’s not looking to bring Gayle back to the XI.
Now, for what I think could happen in the game, I think the team batting second should have a big advantage at Rajkot – two games this season have resulted in the team batting second win with much ease, wins with five and two overs to spare, chasing big scores.
Both these teams are stuck between a rock and a hard place, they’re unsure of how to approach and execute their plans in this game. The one player who should manage to somehow be a better decision maker is Virat Kohli, which is why it’s tarot advantage: Royal Challengers Bangalore.