The Rising Pune Supergiants might have started IPL 2016 with a win, but have suffered back-to-back losses ever since. Hence, their home game against the formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Friday gives them a chance to showcase their skills, and climb up the table.
But, it is not going to be an easy task when they square off against RCB, who are one of the strongest teams in IPL 2016. The RCB, like Rising Pune Supergaints, have lost two matches on a trot, and will be eager to get back to their winning ways in Pune.
There are world-class players in both the camps. MS Dhoni, who leads RPS, Kevin Pietersen, Ajinkya Rahana, Faf du Plessis are the star players of their team, while AB De Villiers, Virat Kohli, and Shane Watson are some of their key players.
There is scope for team changes in both their respective starting eleven, after their failure to register victory in their last two games. RPS made three changes in their last game against Kings XI Punjab, but the incoming players like Thisara Perera, Irfan Pathan and Ankit Sharma failed to shine, which might prompt Dhoni to go back to his players, including Mitchell Marsh and Rajat Bhatia.
However, their batting order looks solid and it is sure to remain the same, with Ajinkya Rahane opening alongside Du Plessis, followed by Pietersen and rest. If the RPS are to make any change, it might be in the form of the bowlers and the all-rounders.
Talking about batting, RCB are still missing Chris Gayle, who has flown to Jamaica to be with his partner. But Travis Head, Gayle's replacement, showed his skills with the bat, scoring 24-ball 37 in their last game. So, he is set to retain his place in the starting eleven. KL Rahul might once again be given the chance to open the innings for RCB.
But, their bowling has looked comparatively weak, and are yet to find their best bowlers in the starting eleven. Harshal Patel has played in all the matches for RCB in IPL 2016 so far, but has not looked good, so it might be better suited if they play Sreenath Arvind, and bolster some pace in their line-up. Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal could also return to the staring eleven, replacing Iqbal Abdullah.
Likely XI: Rising Pune Supergiants: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Mitchell Marsh, Rajat Bhatia, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Murugan Ashwin
RCB: Virat Kohli (c ), KL Rahul, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Travis Head, Sarfaraz Khan, 7 Stuart Binny, Kane Richardson, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Aaron, S Aravind