Rajasthan will take field on Saturday having lost their last two matches while RCB will look to recover from their upsetting 2-run defeat to Kolkata. (BCCI)
Both Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to return to winning ways in IPL 7 when the two teams lock horns in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Rajasthan started the season with a hard-fought win against Sunrisers Hyderabad but then suffered two consecutive defeats against the high-flying Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Meanwhie, RCB's two-match winning streak was ended by Kolkata Knight Riders in another nail-biting encounter, which KKR won by 2 runs.
Rajasthan, who have packed their eleven with multi-utility players, will have to lift themselves in both batting and bowling department to beat a start-studded line-up.
It's not that Rajasthan haven't batted well. Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny starred against Hyderabad while Shane Watson and Sanju Samson put their hand up against Punjab to put up 191 on the board, though the effort was undone by a shoddy bowling performance. But those names had no answer to Chennai's disciplined bowling.
The problem for Rajasthan is that their players haven't lived up to their promising reputations. James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith and skipper Watson haven't hit the straps as Rajasthan would have liked. Domestic starts Rahane, Samson and Binny too have blown hot and cold.
Their bowlers Dhawal Kulkarni and Rajat Bhatia have largely managed to keep a lid on scoring, but haven't been among the wickets to make a decisive impact. And the team missed Kane Richardson against Chennai after he had taken three wickets in the previous two games. He sat out sick in that game. They are also missing a quality spinner in their ranks, with Pravin Tambe not able to leave any impression.
Bangalore, however, will consider themselves unfortunate to lose to Kolkata, which should largely be credited to Chris Lynn's stunning catch at the boundary ropes to dismiss AB de Villiers in the final over of the match, in which RCB failed to score 9 runs they needed to win.
The RCB team has been known to provide the fireworks more with their batting than bowling. Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh and Yogesh Takawale have runs under their belt to trouble Rajasthan on Saturday. Though they have missed Chris Gayle, out due to a sore back, the remaining batsmen - other than slip-up against Kolkata - have looked very solid.
RCB's bowling unit was not ranked very highly before the start of the tournament, but Varun Aaron is the joint top wicket-taker with 6 wickets, with Aussie Mitchell Start and South Africa's Morne Morkel contributing appreciably. Young spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has also put up a brave front with four wickets in his kitty.
And on paper, before the first ball is bowled, a punter will definitely have his money on RCB.