BENGALURU: Royal Challengers Bangalore openers have been prolific this season. Faf du Plessis is the top-run scorer in the league with 343 runs while Virat Kohli has 279 against his name. Rajasthan Royals openers – Jos Buttler (244) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (180) – are not too far away.
IPL 2023 SCHEDULE | IPL 2023 POINTS TABLE
All eyes will be on these four openers when the two teams square off in their Indian Premier League match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday. Add the short boundaries and the batting surface, they will be itching to get going in the middle.
Du Plessis, who is striking at 166. 50 this season, and Kohli have been involved in two century stands and one 90-plus stand. Buttler and Jaiswal have opened five times in six matches, adding more than 80-run plus stands three times. Despite a dominant show by their openers, RCB, who will wear the green jerseys showcasing their support of the ‘Go Green’ initiative on Sunday, have only won three matches from six. The middle order, barring Glenn Maxwell, is to blame with none of the batters making an impact.
The new-ball bowlers, especially Mohammed Siraj (12 wickets), have delivered for RCB, but the others have been found wanting in the middle overs and at the death. However, the bowling group will come into the clash a tad confident after defending 174 runs against Punjab Kings on Thursday. It remains to be seen if RCB will field Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood, who bowled at the nets on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Sanju Samson-led Royals head into the match after a loss to Lucknow Super Giants. Shimron Hetmyer (185) has played the role of a finisher to perfection with 15 sixes and a strike rate of 177. 88 but the likes of Samson and Devdutt Padikkal need to bring their A game.
Samson (159) started the season well but has wavered with two ducks and a two in his last four innings. Padikkal, who has a strike rate of 109. 70, will hope to make a bigger impact on his home ground. Royals’ bowling line-up looks impressive with the experienced spin duo of R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal scalping eight and 11 wickets respectively.
With the Kolkata Knight Riders spinners troubling the RCB batters early in the season, Royal swill aim to pull off something similar. They may also opt for leg-spinner Adam Zampa to ramp up their spin options.
Pace bowlers Sandeep Sharma and Trent Boult make the team an all-round bowling unit. With no update on Du Plessis’ rib injury, it will be interesting to see whether he will continue as an Impact Player, allowing Kohli to captain the team again.