After a disastrous start to the campaign, Royal Challengers Bangalore have managed to recover themselves, and are well in contention to find a playoff spot this season. On Saturday afternoon, they will play their final league game against Rajasthan Royals who themselves will also go all-out to snatch a victory and make their case for a top four finish.
At this moment, four teams are at 12 points from 13 games, and thus, 14 points with a good run rate will be enough for one of them to qualify. In that regard, Bangalore has an edge as their run rate is second best among these four sides. And they will be favourites to win the Saturday fixture as well, for the home side will be a weakened one, following the departure of their two star foreign players.
The Royals travelled to Kolkata for their last outing, and it was a poor performance from Ajinkya Rahane’s side. Batting first, they could not show any resilience against a disciplined bowling lineup of the Knight Riders. Within 19 overs, Rajasthan were all out for a paltry 142. It then took only 18 overs from the home side to race to the total, thanks to controlled innings from Chris Lynn and Dinesh Karthik.
For the Bangalore side, on Thursday night against Sunrisers Hyderabad, a magnificent 107-run partnership between AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali was crucial to get 218 runs on board. In response, the league toppers tried heart and soul, but could only get to 204 from their 20 overs. Kane Williamson’s 81 and Manish Pandey’s 62 not out went in vain and that win helped Bangalore to still be in the run of a playoff position.
Team news and predicted lineups:
The hosts have to recover from a huge blow, as their star batsman and the highest scorer Jos Buttler has returned to England for international duties. Expensive allrounder Ben Stokes has also followed the same path, and that will be important as well. In their absence, two among Ben Laughlin, Henrich Klaasen and D’Arcy Short are expected to be included in the lineup. In case Klaasen is not picked, Sanju Samson will have to take up wicketkeeping duties. Here’s our predicted eleven for Rajasthan Royals:
D’Arcy Short, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson (Wk), Rahul Tripathi, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Ish Sodhi, Ben Laughlin.
On the other hand, Bangalore side will be relieved that Ali, star performer of the last game, is not going back to England for the upcoming test series. He is expected to feature once again, and will be crucial for the team. Kohli is probably not going to make any change to the starting lineup for Royal Challengers. And in that case, following is how they may line up for the Saturday extravaganza:
Parthiv Patel (Wk), Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj.
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