Can Dravid lead Rajasthan to win against Bangalore?
A tough challenge awaits Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) when they take on Rajasthan Royals (RR) in a battle of table-toppers in the Indian Premier League in Bangalore on Saturday.
RCB are undefeated in the four matches they have played at home this season, and Royals, who after four wins in five outings are on a roll themselves.
Except for the surprise loss against underdogs Pune Warriors, the Royals have won their matches comfortably, including against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Jaipur-based team led by Rahul Dravid, incidentally a Banglorean, would like to gain pole position with a win on Saturday. They are now on same eight points with the RCB.
With a massive 86-run win against the Mumbai Indians at home on Wednesday, the Royals, the title winners in the inaugural IPL season, will be quite eager to maintain their winning streak.
Image: Rahul Dravid
Indian players have shone for Royals
One thing that separates the two teams, though, is the talented and performing Indian players in the Royals side.
Ajinkya Rahane, Dravid along with S Sreesanth and Sidharth Trivedi have been the most successful batsmen and bowlers in the tournament so far.
In-form RCB batsmen Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers will be up against the likes of Sreesanth, Trivedi and wily spinner Kevin Cooper.
The home fans at the Chinnaswamy Stadium will be eager to watch the battle between Gayle and temperamental Sreesanth, who is expected to take the field since reopening the 'slapgate' wounds with his explosive tweets last week.
Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Dilshan could partner Gayle at the top
RCB have Gayle, captain Kohli and de Villiers, who can take the battle to the opposition camp. Gayle has had a couple of match-winning knocks and RCB would be depending a lot on Kohli also in batting.
However, other Indian players like Mayank Agarwal, Lokesk Rahul and Karun Nair are the weak links for the hosts.
The home side have also struggled to find a partner for Gayle at the top. The ploy to send Agarwal and Rahul to open with the explosive West Indian has not worked.
The RCB think-tank may give Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan a go once again, depending upon playing conditions.
Image: Chris Gayle
Both captains have led from the front
The Royals, on the other hand, have not depended too much on one individual, theirs has been a collective effort.
An interesting battle may unfold between Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, if he gets into the playing eleven, and the Royals batsmen.
The rival captains have led their respective sides admirably well and from the front too with fine batting performances.
Dravid has also done a bit of experiment with his side like fielding five bowlers on an Indian pitch, against Kolkata Knight Riders in Jaipur on April 8.
The Teams (From):
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mayank Agarwal, Muttiah Muralitharan, R P Singh, Lokesh Rahul, Vinay Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jaydev Unadkat, Ravi Rampaul, K P Appanna, Sreenath Aravind, Arun Karthik, Daniel Vettori, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Moises Henriques, Sheldon Jackson, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Andrew McDonald, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, Harshal Patel, Sandeep Warrier, Sunny Sohal, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary, Vijay Zol.Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, S Sreesanth, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Kevon Cooper, Fidel Edwards, James Faulkner, Shreevats Goswami, Samuel Badree, Harmeet Singh, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Vikramjeet Malik, Kumar Boresa, Ashok Menaria, Kusal Perera, Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson, Owais Shah, Rahul Shukla, Amit Singh, Pravin Tambe.