IPL 2020, RCB vs RR Preview: Battle between two well-oiled batting units

When Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Rajasthan Royals in the first-day match of the Indian Premier League 2020 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, a long-standing rivalry between the two best batsmen in world cricket will resume. Yes, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will be facing each other at the toss for the first time since Australia’s acrimonious 2017 tour of India. Both men have strived hard and led their respective teams to the IPL final in the past – Smith-led Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017 and Kohli Kohli led RCB to the final in 2016 – but they are yet to get their hands on the coveted trophy.

With both teams sitting on 4 points from 3 matches, victory would allow one of them to move closer to the top of the table. RCB are coming off a close win over Mumbai Indians in the Super over while RR were outclassed by Kolkata Knight Riders in their last outing. There are massive positives for both sides in the campaign so far and there are major drawbacks too, which they need to try and fix.

Kohli seems to have finally found his best starting XI, although the bowling continues to be a matter of concern. Padikkal and Finch have been among runs at the top of the order and AB de Villiers has managed to turn the clock back. Shivam Dube too has got the big shots going and apart from the minor matter of Kohli struggling to find form, RCB’s batting looks strong and in shape. Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal have played their part with the ball but the rest have struggled to say the least. Death bowling remains a concern and Kohli’s batsmen need to cover up for the shortcomings in the bowling department yet again.

Adam Zampa went for 53 in his 4 overs against Mumbai Indians and that should allow Virat to think of playing Moeen Ali in the next match as that would give him a batting option in the middle order too.

The Royals had looked solid in the opening two encounters in Sharjah as their batsmen had a feast on the flat track and small stadium. But their first outing outside of Sharjah brought out the negatives. Buttler needs to get some runs or else skipper Smith will be overburdened with the responsibility of both scoring runs and playing anchor. Sanju Samson had a failure in the last match and will need to do more in this match to get rid of the flat track bully and inconsistent tags.

Jofra Archer has been in good form with the ball and he needs the likes of Tom Curran and Jaydev Unadkat to pick up wickets to ease the pressure on him. Shreyas Gopal, the lone regular spinner, needs to up his game against a top-quality batting attack.

On paper, it is a battle between two formidable batting line-ups. There are gaps in the bowling department of both teams and whoever fills them, will come out on top in this battle.


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