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Match 31 of Pepsi IPL 2013 will feature Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors India.
Though both teams have played seven matches so far, their fortunes are as different as chalk and cheese. RCB have won five of their seven fixtures, while PWI have won two and lost five. A victory in this match will propel RCB to the top of the table, while a victory for PWI will mean a move up to seventh place.
RCB definitely start favourites in this contest, given they are on a roll having won their last two matches. They held their nerve to defeat the Delhi Daredevils in the Super Over and then thoroughly outclassed the Rajasthan Royals in their most recent fixture. Pune Warriors India meanwhile have worries on both the batting and bowling fronts. In their most recent match against Kings XI Punjab, the bowlers could not defend 186. In the match before that, a batting collapse meant PWI failed to chase down 120.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 4 p.m
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
Just how RCB have dominated the tournament can be established from the fact that their skipper Virat Kohli holds the Orange Cap and R Vinay Kumar tops the list of leading wicket-takers so far. The destructive Chris Gayle too finds a place among the top three run-getters in the season so far, while RP Singh is among the top ten wicket-takers this season. Among the best batsmen in the world currently, AB de Villiers is capable of destroying even the best bowling attacks. The South African has not set the stage on fire just yet – expect him to come to the party if and when he gets an opportunity.
Not only has Pune Warriors India’s Aaron Finch scored three half-centuries, he has been aggressive at the top of the order and that has ensured the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Steve Smith have a platform to launch from. Finch – the only PWI to break the 50-run mark this season – will need to carry that form, while Yuvraj Singh has looked in good touch in each of his three most recent outings. On the bowling front, Bhuvneshwar Kumar seems to be developing the knack of picking up wickets early on, while Rahul Sharma has strangled the opposition with his fastish leg-breaks.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors India have so far met on three occasions and the Bangalore franchise has emerged victors in all three matches.
In the first meeting in 2011, RCB won their home fixture by 26 runs. In the meeting between the two teams at Bengaluru in 2012, RCB held their nerve to beat PWI by six wickets. In their away fixture in 2012, RCB defeated the hosts by 35 runs.
RCB are undefeated in five matches at home this season.
Aaron Finch has an impressive record as captain; in nine matches as captain in the Twenty20 format, he averages 66 and in five limited overs matches as captain, he averages 80.00. What Next
Royal Challengers Bangalore head to Mumbai to take on the Mumbai Indians on April 27. And Pune Warriors India will head to Raipur where they take on the Delhi Daredevils in their adopted home venue Chattisgarh International Cricket Stadium on April 28.
Riding the wave of their convincing win over the Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils are looking to bounce back from the string of losses they had prior to April 21. TheMahela Jayawardene-led side will be taking on Kings XI Punjab who come into the game on April 23 riding on the back of a thrilling and nerve wrecking win and will be high on confidence as well.
Speaking about the importance of momentum in a competitive tournament like the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, Roelof van der Merwe, who played his first game of the season against MI on Sunday said, “The importance is massive, especially in this tournament where is lot at stake. There is the Champions League (T20) and all that. The owners put out a lot of money for the players and they expect us to perform and it has got to happen. Momentum ... it is only 16 games, it sounds like a lot but I mean look at us, we have lost six and we are running out of time so momentum now is crucial for us to win two or three on the bounce and then towards the end you never know we might be in with a chance.”
Talking about the timely victory he also mentioned, “Especially after the kind of season we had last year, after playing in the semi-final, six losses in a row wasn’t what we expected and the kind of good players we have it is quite frustrating so to get a win on the board. Sunday night was good for our confidence and you might never know we might still pull through.”
The South African left-arm spinner who had been waiting to get an opportunity to take the field claimed a wicket in his first over at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Asked about biding his time until getting a chance to play in the eleven and motivating himself he said, “Yes it is hard being an overseas player, who is not a KP and guys who are always going to play. You sit on the sidelines and you imagine you will get your chance, and you know you got one game to do well otherwise the change will be made. It is really frustrating but at the end of the day it is all about the team winning and whoever plays, whether an overseas player or local player, it doesn’t matter as far as the team is winning.”
Discussing the differences in bowling in SA and India, Merwe explained, “The difference between South Africa and here are that the conditions here are better for spin bowling but the players also play better over here. I mean, the local Indian players are unbelievable players of spin. They do it every day, back home we don’t play spin as well, so it is also easier that way. Conditions are better here and so are the players.”
Talking further about the challenges for a spinner in T20, he added, “If you spin on a good wicket it could get difficult as fields aren’t very big but you just got to play with your pace, and try out things for the batters here. They are always going to come for the spinners and that is why spinners also take wickets. Batters try to take them on and most of the time they come off second.”
The bowlers have to hold their nerve and back themselves after being hit by the batsmen. Speaking on the issue he observed, “At the end of the day the batters are all out to play good cricket. They are not always going to hit good shots but I mean you just have to stick to your plans and if you get hit, you get hit. But you got to have your A plan (game) and if it doesn’t come off on the day there isn’t much that you can do.”
Asked how the presence of the legendary leg-spinner spinner Mushtaq Ahmed’s presence in the coaching staff as helped him, Merwe replied, “I think he is an awesome cricket brain and brings a lot of variation. I always just thought of bowling left-arm spin but he taught me a few variations that I can use and I think in a modern game it is needed. If you look at the best players, those guys have got a lot of variations and yes it very important.”
While speaking about the role of the mentors and former senior cricketers role he said, “They definitely play a big role. You come in with your game plan and the mentor is there to just reassure your confidence, to just back up what you are thinking and they give you little tips that you can use but they also add value to the side as they reassure you with that needed confidence.”
Asked about the different philosophies of different teams within IPL, Merwe observed, “Different teams, different owners, different management. From Royal Challengers Bangalore to Delhi Daredevils there are big differences in everything. It is just so for the player for two months of the year where you have to adapt to that and just go with it. We have an awesome management at DD and it has been good. We just haven’t been performing on the field.”
So was there pressure from the owners when as they underwent a string a losses? Appreciative of the support from the DD owners he stated, “In all honesty, all credit to (GMR Sports Chairman) Kiran (K Grandhi), he has been very calm under the circumstances and as professional cricketers we put pressure on ourselves to perform. That’s a natural thing where you rock up every game to do well and if you don’t do well, it eats away at you. They haven’t put any extra pressure on us and just want us to perform within ourselves.”