My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Dale Steyn

A star studded franchise led by one of the most influential cricketer of the era, Royal Challengers Bangalore seem to have got it all but for an IPL title. For some reason despite having a talented and best cricketers around the world, RCB has never been able to put together a title winning season. Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers have been the constant for the franchise and they have in fact carried the hopes of the team for over 12 seasons.

This time again Virat Kohli led RCB have one of the best squads in the tournament. AB De Villiers and Captain Virat Kohli are back again in the mix. The biggest problem for RCB over the last two seasons have been their openers. Since they have gotten rid of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, the team has struggled to find the right combination at the top. This has meant that Virat Kohli has had to move up the order leaving the middle order inexperienced. The signing of Aaron Finch though will help RCB a great deal on that regard.

The Australian captain has been match fit and is coming straight after a ODI series in England which would mean that along with Parthiv Patel, RCB has finally taken care of the opening combination at least for now. They also have another exciting signing of 20 year old Devdutt Padikkal who has had an incredible start to his T20 career averaging 64 at a SR of 175. His addition in the middle order will be exciting for RCB.

Their bowling arsenal is strong as well with the legendary Dale Steyn and India’s Navdeep Saini. Adam Zampa has been roped in and they have the ever reliable Yuzvendra Chahal in the squad as well. Even though Zampa has been in tremendous form for Australia in the recently concluded ODI series, it is hard to see him make the X1 for the first game. Washington Sundar’s availability means Moeen Ali will be benched as well.

Similar to most of the seasons RCB once again have a great squad and excellent talent at their disposal. The biggest criticism they have received over the years is the way they use their squad. Their selection is all over the place and Virat kohli hasn’t shown too much patience with players which means the consistency in the X1 is something which is non existent.

Also the Bangalore venue hasn’t been kind to them as well. A small ground and a flat pitch means they normally don’t have any advantage like a team like CSK of playing in the home ground. Probably the change of scenery is what they need. The first couple of games in Dubai has shown that long boundaries mean hitting sixes isn’t that easy and scores are not that high. A fit team like RCB might take advantage of that and they pace/spin attack can actually put pressure on the batters with the pitch having some assistance to good bowling. Virat Kohli will be hoping that this year finally breaks their jinx and they would be able to claim their first IPL title.

My RCB XI for the first game:

Parthiv Patel (Wkt), Aaron Finch (O), Virat Kohli (Capt), AB De Villiers, Devudutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris (O), Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn (O), Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj

They can play Gukeerat Mann Singh if they want another batter to replace Siraj and they can include Adam Zampa or Moeen Ali by replacing Chris Morris by Shivam Dube. So RCB does have a very balanced squad and obviously they don’t have to have the perfect XI in the first game. The Above XI looks very balanced with good mix of batters/all rounders but again I will be tempted to get Zampa in due to his brilliant form recently.

India and South Africa clash in one of the most important games in group B. The tournament is nearing towards the business end of the group stages and the teams would be mindful that their position in the table is equally important. India with two decent wins against the Irish and the Dutch are currently perched prettily at the top of the rankings and would want to remain there with another win. South Africa on the other hand would want to get their campaign back on track after their disappointing loss against England.

South Africa will be hurt by the injury to Imran Tahir who has been brilliant so far in this world cup. I don’t think SA would want to risk playing him with injury as they would want him to be fit for the knockout stages. The Indian team combination though is still anybody’s guess. If we go by what Dhoni said after India’s win against Netherlands, it seems like Ravichandran Ashwin might finally get a chance against the proteas replacing Piyush Chawla and Ashish Nehra might retain his place in the side at the expense of Munaf Patel. The batting though will remain unchanged barring any injuries.

South Africa would probably play Botha in the place of injured Tahir and the rest of the team should remain the same. The biggest contest of Saturday’s game is going to be between the Indian openers and Dale Steyn. Steyn hasn’t been all that effective in the limited overs format in the past but Smith would want him to be at his best against a strong Indian batting line up. Sachin and Sehwag both have been in tremendous touch and India would be hoping that they give them a good start once again.

The middle order will be under scrutiny this time as in both their previous games, the Indians slipped from comfortable situation to 4 down within no time. They will have to guard against the same against a much stronger South African outfit. Zaheer will again be the important cog in India’s bowling wheel along with Bajji. Bajji would want to get back to his wicket taking ways as along with Ashwin/Chawla, Yuvraj and Pathan he will be important in restricting South Africa’s progress in the middle overs.

This will be the biggest test for the Indian team and a win most certainly put them at the top of the table. Smith knows that losing this game will put enormous pressure on his team and for sure would want to guard against the same. All in all this is going to be a cracker of a game and it will be interesting to see what kind of strategy the teams will adopt for this important group B fixture. Both these teams know each other’s game pretty well as they were at loggerheads just recently in a full series. Both the teams are pretty even and I would say that there are no clear favorites in this match up. One thing is for certain though, the team which bowls better on this Nagpur belter will for sure be the winners.


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