AFP PHOTO / Manjunath KIRAN / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT
AFP PHOTO / Manjunath KIRAN / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT

Head-to-head

Royal Challengers Bangalore have a 2-1 advantage over the Gujarat Lions.

Sport is unpredictable. Sport can be a roller-coaster. Sport can be cruel. The Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore occupied the first and second places respectively at the end of the league season in 2016. A year later, they are bunched together yet again, but at the other end of the table; the Lions occupy seventh place in the eight-team table, while RCB occupy the floor. The Lions have one win from their first four matches, while RCB have a solitary win from five outings so far this season. Needless to say both, Lions skipper Suresh Raina and RCB’s Virat Kohli will be desperate to grab some points when they will meet at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.

Raina would be hoping that returning home would be something of a boost for his side. They were looking good in a competitive in their last match against the Mumbai Indians, but Mumbai outfit is almost unstoppable now. Lions have likes of Raina, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch in their batting armoury. It is the bowling that will be sorely tested when the two sides meet and it is a simple matter of who bowls better that may decide the clash between these top bottom-placed sides.

RCB have by far the most formidable batting in the tournament, with Virat, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers being among the best batsmen in the business. For RCB the problem lies prominently on the team combination. Fitting in top-quality foreign talent was RCB’s luxury and now it has become a concern. Till now, RCB have used 19 different players so far and have fielded a different opening pair in each of their five matches. The team is not being helped by the fact that their overseas all-rounder, Shane Watson has not done anything of note with bat and ball; so far this season, Watson has scored at less than a run-a-ball and has leaked runs at 10.30 runs per over. RCB are better keeping Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers in the top three, and hope Kedar Jadhav can fill the place played by KL Rahul last season.

Key players for Gujarat Lions

Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Jason Roy, Munaf Patel

Key players for Royal Challengers Bangalore

Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Kedar Jadhav, Adam Milne, Samuel Badri, Yuzvendra Chahal

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