Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiants will look to break their losing streak and that makes their clash this weekend very important.
The two sides play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday, April 16 with RCB needing to improve fast and Pune attempting to arrest a slide down the standings.
Bangalore started this season as one of the top title contenders. Having names like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli is definitely the biggest reason for that optimism. But their absence in the initial stages hurt them bad as they come into this match winning just one of their first four matches.
They started on a wrong foot losing to Sunrisers Hyderabad but then recovered in time to win against Delhi Daredevils. In their next match against Kings XI Punjab, they couldn’t ride on the return of AB de Villiers.
What should hurt them more is the loss to Mumbai Indians where Virat Kohli returned with a sparkling half-century. Having the opposition on the mat at 33/5 chasing 143 and still losing the match, Bangalore would be definitely disappointed.
The time is ripe for RCB to take charge of their fortunes and no better match than this.
Steve Smith made his captaincy debut for Pune on a positive note leading them to victory over Mumbai Indians. With Imran Tahir in cracking form, it looked like Pune would give everyone else a run for their money.
But then, the consecutive defeats against Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils hurt them bad as Pune started its slide down the table. And a third consecutive loss to Gujarat Lions moves them closer to the bottom than to the top.
Smith will have a lot to ponder about the team’s balance although the performances of Shardul Thakur and Rahul Chahar would have eased his problems of domestic options.
Kohli will have to think hard about the utility of having Pawan Negi while it is for sure that Samuel Badree would play on Sunday.
Pune will hope to find a balance but more than anything they need runs from Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni without which they look vulnerable.
RCB won both the matches last season with two Virat Kohli specials leading them to success.
RCB were stunned by Mumbai and Pollard and would like to kick that loss out of their system. Balance is still a concern but the bigger problems of Pune make Bangalore favourites for this match. Back them to win the match at odds of $1.63 (Sportsbet
Kohli has happy memories of Pune from last season and would be eager to get his team back on the path of success. Can he lead them again with a big score? Back Kohli to be their top batsman at odds of $3.25 (bet365
For Pune, Smith continues to be the lone shining beacon and backing him to be their top batsman seems to be a prudent pick.
RCB will look to blaze away in the power play and looking at their top-heavy batting, backing them to score more runs in the first six overs looks decent value.