Virat Kohli has had an inconsistent IPL 2022 so far
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) earlier faced the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the early stages of IPL 2022 on April 5. Back then, Shahbaz Ahmed and Dinesh Karthik propelled the side to a four-wicket win at the Wankhede Stadium.
Chasing 170 to win, Bangalore fended off Yuzvendra Chahal’s brilliance (2/15) despite the middle order’s struggles. While Shahbaz showcased his batting skills, Karthik was busy staking a berth in the Indian side by executing his role as a finisher to perfection.
Since then, RCB have won three games and lost two. The most recent of it was a horrendous and forgettable outing against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on 23 April. They could only manage to score 68 runs in the first innings, which was chased down by Hyderabad in eight overs.
Bangalore are now fifth in the points table, while the Royals (won 3, lost 1) are placed third.
Both sides may have had 10 points each, but the NRR made a massive difference, especially after RCB’s nine-wicket loss to Hyderabad. The stalwarts will now now meet again for the second time to solidify their positions at the top of the table.
With both teams filled with bonafide matchwinners, the outcome will be decided by the player battles that will be in focus. The two teams will meet at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Tuesday (April 26).
Ahead of the epic clash, here’s a look at the key player battles to watch out for.
#1 RCB’s struggling Virat Kohli vs RR’s Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin will feel Virat Kohli got lucky after being run out in their last clash. With the out-of-form batter looking for some luck going his way, Ashwin will hope to cash in on the factor. This is especially after Kohli has had the better of him in all of their encounters over the years.
He averages 162 against tweakers who have dismissed him just once in 20 innings. While Yuzvendra Chahal has been instrumental for RR, Ashwin is content stifling the attack. However, he will be keen to send back a struggling Kohli who is yet to fire in the tournament.
#2 Josh Hazlewood vs Jos Buttler
With Josh Hazlewood back in the RCB side, things are just getting a lot tougher for Jos Buttler, who has been in splendid form in IPL 2022 so far. With 491 runs from seven matches, the Englishman is averaging 81.83 and striking at a rate of 161.51. He has already scored three centuries this season.
Hazlewood has been dependable for the Challengers with eight wickets from four games at an average of 14.62. Buttler has never been dismissed by the Aussie pacer in the IPL, but has fallen to him four times in Tests and once in ODIs.
#3 Dinesh Karthik vs Yuzvendra Chahal
Dinesh Karthik was dismissed for a duck in RCB’s previous match against Hyderabad. However, there’s no denying that he is in the form of his life, finishing games with consummate ease. He has single-handedly helped his side win multiple matches this season.
Up against the veteran batter will be Chahal, Rajasthan’s most-successful bowler with 18 wickets so far in IPL 2022. He was stellar in their last game against Bangalore and will be gunning for another encore.