We saw a great game of cricket in the first game, and now the second game is hours away. This one, however, promises to be an even more interesting competition. The Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on the Mumbai Indians in Bengaluru. In the auctions, RCB were the most active team, with 7 buys: left arm pacer RP Singh, Windies Ravi Rampaul and Chris Barnwell, All rounders Moises Henriques and Daniel Christian, and Indian pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Pankaj Singh. MI were almost just as noisy with 5 players. Their buys were captain Ricky Ponting, million-dollar baby Glenn Maxwell, Jacob Phil Hughes, and all rounders Oram, and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Now on the teams. Mumbai have changed their captain now to Ricky Ponting, and also brought him in as yet another potential opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar. This is something MI has really struggled with in the last 3 years. Davy Jacobs, James Franklin, Rajagopal Sathish, Aiden Blizzard, Herschelle Gibbs, and Richard Levi have all been tried, and discarded. If Ponting fires with Sachin, MI have very little to worry about in the batting department. In the bowling, Lasith Malinga is injured, and will not play this first game. This means that Mitchell Johnson now has a very good shot at an IPL debut. Johnson was not very special in the one and only test he played in the Border-Gavasker trophy, but still can be very effective as a bowler. He can also bat a fair bit, so it gives the MI lineup more depth. So Ponting and Johnson have now filled up 2 of the 4 overseas spots. Kieron Pollard will definitely get the third. The fourth will most likely go to Glenn Maxwell. Not because of his awe-striking form, but because of his $1 million price tag. Spots 3 and 4 will go to Rohit Sharma and keeper Dinesh Karthik. 5 will go to Ambati Rayudu. Munaf Patel will combine with Johnson to spearhead, while Harbhajan Singh and Praghyan Ojha will slow the ball.
MI POTENTIAL SQUAD:
Ricky Ponting (c)
Dinesh Karthik (wk)
RCB have really done their homework this auction. They have brought in lots of bowling reserves, and two all rounders. On paper, they have a tremendous side. However, they don’t have a full strength side either. AB de Villiers is in South Africa playing for the Titans, and Zaheer Khan is recovering from a hamstring injury. This means that Arun Karthik will have to keep wickets. It also gives RP Singh the responsibility of spearheading the attack. Chris Gayle and TM Dilshan will make two of the 4 overseas players for RCB. Dilshan has been in the form of his life off late, while Gayle simply cannot be left out of any side. the third will probably go to Muttiah Muralitharan. The fourth will be fought for between the 3 Ozzie all rounders Christian, Henriques and Andrew McDonald, and also Ravi Rampaul. However, my preference would be McD, as the middle order is inexperienced, and a strong batsman is needed there. Also, McD was very succesful for RCB with the ball. If everything goes this way, RCB will have a better balance in the middle. Another thing is that Cheteshwar Pujara should bat up at number 3, as he has looked very good up there for India in tests, and Kohli is an equally flamboyant player at number 4. RP will be joined by McD and Vinay Kumar as they spearhead the attack while Murali will combine with Murali Karthik – who was recruited by RCB outside the auction – to slow down the ball. Saurabh Tiwari – who is in a desperate need of some runs – will play at 6 while Karthik will play at 7.
RCB POTENTIAL SQUAD:
Virat Kohli (c)
Arun Karthik (wk)
CLASHES TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Mitchell Johnson vs Tillakaratne Dilshan: Dilshan is one of those guys who likes to start playing his shots from ball one, but has had trouble with left-arm seamers. Ponting will definitely be relieved if Mitch can send Dilshan back early.
Chris Gayle vs Munaf Patel: Out of the 3 times MI have got Gayle out, two of them have been to the courtesy of Munaf Patel. So if Munaf can remove Gayle early, we’re in for something.
Muttiah Muralitharan vs Sachin Tendulkar:
Two legends playing against each other. If Murali can outfox Sachin and expose the middle order, game on.
RP Singh vs Ricky Ponting: RP was purchased by RCB with the hope that he can bring them some early wickets, and some good death bowling. If RP can take out the Mumbai skipper, the Challengers would definitely breathe easier.
Gayle and Virat hold the key for RCB