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Preview: M53 - RR vs RCB

Hamstrung RR face RCB in a virtual knockout

What

The Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will clash in a virtual knockout in Match 53 of VIVO IPL 2018. Both teams have 12 points from 13 matches, and only a win can keep them in the race to the playoffs.

The Rajasthan Royals were in a woeful position about a month into the tournament; they had only three wins from nine matches and were facing elimination. However, they have since turned around their fortunes and are in with a fair shot of progressing to the next stage. For that to happen, they need to turn in a far better performance than their crash-and-succumb show in the last match against Kolkata Knight Riders; at Kolkata on Tuesday night, RR lost all ten for 82 runs to be bundled out for 142 in 19 overs, and allowed their opponents to chase down the runs in 18 overs. RR’s net run rate took a beating as an outcome of that result; their NRR is -0.403. For RR to stay in the playoff race, first and foremost they need a win, and thereafter they need to improve their poor net run rate in case it comes down to NRR being the deciding factor.

RR’s challenge is compounded further because two of their experienced players – Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – have had to part ways with the team to join up with their national team commitments. Buttler was at the heart of RR’s revival of fortunes, and his departure is a massive blow. How RR address the void caused by his departure remains to be seen.

Royal Challengers Bangalore will believe they are peaking at the right time. They have three back-to-back wins going into this contest and must be brimming with confidence. Two of those three wins were clinical performances and team efforts, while the win against table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last match was set up by some brilliant batting. RCB have a pretty good net run rate going into this match; if they get the better of their opponents in this match, there’s a good chance that should be sufficient to take them to the next stage.

When

19 May 2018, 1600Hrs (IST)

Where

Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Impact Batsmen

In the absence of their man-in-form Jos Buttler, the onus now falls on captain Ajinkya Rahane and the experienced Sanju Samson to score big runs for the team. It has been a while since either of them made a significant score, and this high-stakes match is just the right opportunity for them to give a better account of themselves.

For the major part of the competition, RCB has been a two-man army on the batting front. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers did the bulk of the scoring in the early part of the tournament; they are the two men most likely to play match-winning knocks. It augurs well for RCB that there have been useful contributions made by Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali and Colin de Grandhomme in recent times.

Impact Bowlers

The one Rajasthan Royals bowler who has looked like taking wickets consistently is Jofra Archer; the 23-year old is his team’s highest wicket-taker – this despite missing the first five matches in the season. This is the first time he will be up against Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers; it will be interesting to see how he fares against them.

Umesh Yadav, RCB’s leading wicket-taker this season, has a score to settle against RR; he was taken for 59 runs the last time he ran into them. Since then though, Umesh has generally bowled well and has a reasonable economy of 7.64. YuzvendraChahalis the one other go-to bowler for Virat Kohli; the leg-spinner has not been able to run through sides like several others of his ilk have done, but he has picked up wickets every now and then and has given his captain excellent control from his end.

Team Head to Head

Overall: Matches – 17, Rajasthan Royals won – 8, Royal Challengers Bangalore won – 8, No Result – 1

In Jaipur: Matches – 5, Rajasthan Royals won – 2, Royal Challengers Bangalore won – 3

Trivia

RR and RCB have both used seven different opening pairs this season. RR average 31.46 for the opening wicket, while RCB’s opening pair average 29.08.

RCB have taken the most wickets in the powerplay overs – 24.

The Rajasthan Royals have lost the most wickets in the middle overs and have the poorest scoring rate in that period; they’ve lost a total of 41 wickets and score at 7.50.

What Next

Both teams complete their VIVO IPL 2018 league stage fixtures with this match. The outcome of this match and the results of the other games will determine where they go from here. The winner of this tie will definitely stand a chance of progressing to the playoffs, while it will be the end of the season for the loser of this match.

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