Two of the most popular Indian players â€” MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli â€” will lead their respective IPL sides, Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore, for a crucial encounter at MCA Stadium in Pune on Friday. Both teams are struggling in the bottom half of the table, and are desperate to move up in the IPL 2016 standings.
It is a pity that RPS and RCB have won only one game each in IPL 2016 despite possessing match-winners in their respective sides. Both teams possess fairly solid batting line-ups, but their bowling might be a cause of concern.
Bowlers like Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Aaron, S Aravind (of Royal Challengers Bangalore), and Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mitchell Marsh (of Rising Pune Supergiants) must step up their game. The match result might be determined by the team that bowls better in Pune.
RPS, being a new team in IPL 2016, are yet to find their best playing 11, and have made some changes in their first three matches. It is high time they find their best players to start with.
"Even the last game (against Kings XI Punjab), we introduced some new players just to try and find out some more information on the best combination for us moving forward. That is one of the greatest challenges as a new side - we don't have the nucleus of players who have played together. So we start a little bit back," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Rising Pune Supergiants coach Stephen Fleming as saying.
"It is not an excuse, but it just means we have to be very specific with what we do, the teams we put out. It is going to have real purpose."
RPS batsmen like Faf Du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane have been good, and will be keen to showcase their skills in front of their home crowd. If these players deliver at the top, the team has the likes of Dhoni and Steve Smith to flourish at the fag end of the innings with some lusty blows.
RCB also have a dangerous batting line-up. Though they will miss Chris Gayle, who has flown to Jamaica to be with his partner for the birth of their first child, they have plenty of firepower in the team, like Kohli, De Villiers and Shane Watson, who can win matches from impossible situations. Gayle had missed their last match as well.
RCB will depend on these stars primarily, but youngster Sarfraz Khan has looked good in the middle whenever he has got a chance to bat. Even Gayle's replacement, Travis Head, impressed in the last game. So, there is plenty of batting depth to defeat RPS.
The RCB batsmen have been impressive in all their three matches so far, but bowling has been a major worry. Besides Watson, none of the bowlers have been impressive in the competition. Bowlers like Varun Aaron, Adam Milne and Kane Richardson have leaked runs, so irrespective of the batting surface, it might be best suited for RCB to chase whatever score RPS put in the board in Pune.
Both teams, before the start of IPL, were looked upon as serious title contenders, but RPS and RCB have failed to justify the tag. Despite possessing world-class players, they have failed to gel together as a unit. It is time for them to prove their mettle, and send warning signs to other teams in IPL 2016, by playing quality cricket.
Where to watch live
Rising Pune Supergaints vs RCB IPL 2016 matchâ€“ is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. IST (3:30 a.m. BST, 10:30 a.m. ET). Live TV coverage of the Rising Pune Supergaints vs RCB IPL 2016 match will be on Sony Max, Sony Six/HD, Sony ESPN/HD. Online options are available onHotstar and Starsports.com.
Viewers in the US can watch Rising Pune Supergaints vs Royal Challengers IPL 2016 match on ESPN, while the game can also be live streamed on Watch ESPN. Sportsnet and viewers in Canada can watch the Rising Pune Supergaints vs RCB IPL 2016 match on Watch Sportsnet
OSN Sports Cricket will show Rising Pune Supergaints vs RCB gamelive in the Middle East and North Africa, while all the action can also be watched via live streaming online on OSN Cricket Play.
Supersport and Supersport Live Video will broadcast Rising Pune Supergaints vs RCB game live in South Africa.
Viewers from across the world, around 133 countries, can watch the IPL 2016 match live online on Cricketgateway.