The Rajasthan Royals (RR) take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Match 31 of IPL 2020. Between them, the two teams have managed to win a grand total of 1 IPL title. And it feels like a lifetime ago that Shane Warne took a bunch of youngsters and created history by winning the IPL with them.
Today, these two teams find themselves on the opposite ends of the table. While RR are at sixth place and looking to cover some ground towards the top four, RCB are currently third, and a win today would see them pull level on points with the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Capitals at the top of the table, albeit temporarily.
RCB come into this game on the back of their third defeat of the season, and a second one at the hands of the Kings XI Punjab. While they would have gone into the game with all the confidence needed from the trouncing of the Kolkata Knight Riders, RCB were undone by a couple of inexplicable decisions from the team management.
Although one would understand the team wanting to protect their best batsmen, giving your most in-form player only four overs to play was quite baffling. To make things worse for Kohli’s men, the bowlers couldn’t carry on their momentum from the previous games, and RCB were beaten by eight wickets.
The Royals seemed all set to turn things around against the high-flying Delhi Capitals in their previous game, but it all fell apart thanks to some incredible bowling from Kagiso Rabada and co towards the end. Losing games like these are likely to dent a team’s confidence significantly.
And if the defeat was not bad enough, the Jaipur-based franchise found themselves in the middle of a Twitter storm on Friday, just a day before the game against RCB. An innocent tweet from their official handle was misconstrued as a hint that Jos Buttler was to be named captain.
Thus began the merry-go-round. Stories suggesting that Steve Smith had chosen to relinquish captaincy in a bid to contribute more with the bat started to surface. All this only for the RR team to confirm that there was nothing to it, and that the Australian batsman would, in fact, be carrying on as captain of the side.
Quite a lot is happening for both teams coming into this RR v RCB fixture, but in the end, the only thing that matters is how bad these two teams want to end up on the winning side—that, and maybe, the toss.
IPL 2020: RR v RCB Match Prediction
The RR line-up is likely to look very different from when the Royal Challengers beat them by eight wickets. That, apart from the chopping and changing that seems to have become a regular feature for this team.
The return of Ben Stokes midway into the tournament would have given the Rajasthan outfit a major boost, although he is yet to fire by his calibre. Although his T20 records pale in comparison to how he has performed in other forms of the game, Ben Stokes seems to be at his best when his teams find their backs against the wall.
Some Ben Stokes magic, especially with him opening the batting for RR, would do the team a world of good. Though it didn’t account for much against the Capitals, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler did seem in good touch and the two of them firing could very well spell trouble for the Bengaluru franchise.
Incidentally, it was against the Royals that RCB captain Virat Kohli seemingly rediscovered his touch, and he would want to repeat his performance from the game, if not better it. Kohli is not the only batsman that RR skipper Smith will have to worry about, of course.
The rest of the batting line-up have stood up to be counted more often than not for the Royal Challengers, with AB de Villiers and young Devdutt Padikkal really standing out from the lot. How they deal with the season’s second-most successful bowler in Jofra Archer will be interesting to watch.
However, the batting has not been the most striking feature of the RCB unit this term. The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar have spun webs around the opposition batsmen more often than not. Navdeep Saini has bowled with devastating pace as well.
Add the quick Chris Morris to that bowling unit, and RCB have begun to reap the rewards of the INR 10 Cr investment at the IPL 2020 Auction in December. Although the bowlers failed to do the job against KXIP last time out, it is likely to have been a minor blip. Just a bad day at the office.
Given the all-round performances of the Royal Challengers over the season, and with the team seemingly in high spirits, it is safe to say that RCB will come out on top today.
Prediction: RCB to win today’s match.
Published 17 Oct 2020, 11:52 IST