For Royal Challengers Bangalore, the season of uncertainty owing to the sweeping second wave of the pandemic seems somehow to have helped bridge the 350km distance between their original home, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, and Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium, the erstwhile fortress of Chennai Super Kings.
RCB have found home comfort at a venue that’s been hard to breach in the past. After the first week of the IPL, Virat Kohli and his men find themselves with two consecutive. The three-time finalists will seek to maintain the winning momentum when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the tournament’s first afternoon contest on Sunday.
April 18 is a significant day for the league in more than one way. It marks the 13th anniversary of the start of the cash-rich league which has revolutionised T20 cricket. Coincidentally, the protagonists that night at the Chinnaswamy Stadium were RCB and KRR, the latter registering a thumping 140-run win powered by Brendon McCullum’s unbeaten 73-ball 158.
All these years on, RCB are still chasing their maiden title . KKR have triumphed twice (2012, 2014), while McCullum is the head coach of the Kolkata team.
Back to the game on hand. The contest pits prolific captains Eoin Morgan and Kohli against each other. The match will be as much about their captaincy nous as the execution of team strategies.
Hitherto heavily and solely dependent on Kohli and AB de Villiers, RCB wear a more rounded look with several others putting their hand up and assuming game changer status. Medium-pacer Harshal Patel (5/27), Glenn Maxwell and de Villiers helped them cross the finish line in the opening contest against defending champions Mumbai Indians.
Maxwell again (59), Shahbaz Ahmed (3/7), Mohammed Siraj (2/25) and Harshal (2/25) turned heroes in the subsequent six-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Although it is too early to draw conclusions, RCB look to have sorted out their perennial twin problems of a middle-order muddle and bowling at the death. From the two matches, the causes of concern will be the lack of a good start from the openers, and the inability to fire as a unit.
Kolkata got off to a winning start with a 10-run conquest of Sunrisers, but fell short by the exact margin against their nemesis Mumbai as they self-destructed with victory in sight. Spearheaded by Nitish Rana, they have a highly explosive top-order, but are a little shaky in the middle. Andre Russell’s batting form will be closely monitored by Morgan & Co.
Lack of home advantage balances out the tournament, says De Villiers
RCB batsman AB de Villiers has said that lack of home advantage for every team balances out IPL .
“I think it balances out the tournament. It is the same for every team, no one has home games and it really puts emphasis on adapting to different conditions. Every game you play, conditions will be different,” said de Villiers in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of Royal Challengers Bangalore.