It is going to be Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith as the two fierce competitors of modern-day cricket are set to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiant respectively in Bengaluru on Sunday. With such positive captains in the frame for the mega clash, this RCB vs RPS match should be a close encounter.
No doubt, players from both RCB and RPS will only have one motive – play hard and finish on the winning side. With some big names of world cricket featuring in Bengaluru, the fans could be treated to a major spectacle. If Royal Challengers Bangalore have Kohli, AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle, Rising Pune Supergiant comprise Smith, Ben Stokes and MS Dhoni.
Despite such powerhouses in RCB and RPS, they have been poor so far. RPS, after winning their opening match against Mumbai Indians, have lost three on a trot while RCB have also collected one win in IPL 2017.
If these teams are to climb up the table, and challenge other teams in the competition for a place in the Playoffs, they will need to start winning. Besides the big guns, both teams need all their players to contribute in their respective department.
There are some concerns for RCB as their explosive batsman Chris Gayle is yet to fire. The left-hander, however, should play against RPS as he could change the game with his powerful batting skills. Will he get back to form against RPS?
There is no problem with Kohli, who scored a half century in the last match while AB De Villiers has also been amongst the runs. The trio has to do bulk of the scoring for RCB, and look for their bowlers including Samuel Badree and Yuzvendra Chahal to do the work for the home team in the bowling department with the surface expected to be slow.
If Gayle has not fired for RCB, Dhoni has also been poor in IPL 2017 too. After being removed from captaincy, the wicket-keeper batsman has scores of 12, 5, 11 and 5, which is way below his standards. Ajinkya Rahane has also been below par after his half-century in the opening match.
Both the Indian players need to shine against RCB if the visitors are to produce a positive result on Sunday. RPS will depend on Smith, who is in good form this cricket season. The Australian has to lead from the front, and give his players the confidence to shine for 40 overs.
Against a strong batting line-up of RCB, Smith will want his bowlers to bowl wisely. Adam Zampa and Imran Tahir, with their leggies, could be RPS' trump card against RCB. Indian pacers like Shardul Thakur and Rahul Chahar needs to bowl in the right areas too.
Where to watch live
RCB vs RPS is set to begin at 8 pm IST (3.30 pm BST). TV and live streaming information is below.
India: TV: Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD, Sony Max. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 2. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.
Middle East: TV: OSN Sports Cricket HD. Live Streaming: OSN Play.
South Africa: TV: SuperSport. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.
Afghanistan: TV: Lemar TV
Bangladesh: TV: Bong BD.
Hong Kong: TV: Now TV.
International: Live Streaming: Cricketgateway.