When you’ve been playing as well as the Royal Challengers Bangalore have this season, sticking to the winning combination is the way ahead. Even though RCB lost a last-ball thriller to Kings XI Punjab, barring the decision to push AB de Villiers down to No. 6, they had most of their boxes ticked.
Virat Kohli is back among the runs and the bowlers are doing fantastically well, as evident in the last game stretching the game into its final over even though victory seemed certain for the opposition. Keeping that in mind, here is the Playing XI Kohli is expected to field against Rajasthan Royals in Dubai.
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1 Aaron Finch: Australia captain Aaron Finch has blown hot and cold but given his T20 record, he should have had at least more than just one half-century against his name after eight matches. That said, RCB are likely to stick with him given the success their opening partnership has delivered. Can Finch get a big one against a team led by his Aussie mate?
2 Devdutt Padikkal: The find of this year’s IPL, Devdutt Padikkal got a couple of starts, against Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, but couldn’t take it forward. Can the 20-year-old regain the same form that saw him peel off three half-centuries in four matches earlier this season?
3 Virat Kohli (Captain): Virat Kohli has led from the front and there’s no doubt about it. After starting the tournament quietly, Kohli has gradually brought out his destructive best with three impressive scores in his last five innings. The RCB skipper will be expected to produce a repeat performance against RR from earlier in the tournament, where he led the team’s successful chase with an unbeaten half-century.
4 AB de Villiers (Wicketkeeper): Not at 6, not at 5. AB de Villiers should be RCB’s designated No. 5. Now and Forever. It was baffling to see RCB sent Washington Sundar ahead of de Villiers, especially when the former SA captain had plundered an innings of 73 against CSK. No offence to Sundar, or even Shivam Dube, de Villiers belongs at No. 4. Period.
5 Shivam Dube: Youngster Dube has done well to cement his place in this strong RCB batting line-up. But he also leaves a lot to be desired. With three scores of 20, Dube has shown promise only to throw his wicket away. Could Saturday be the day Dube brings out those long sixes that drew comparisons with Yuvraj Singh?
6 Washington Sundar: Washington Sundar has been at the forefront of RCB’s success this IPL season. Although he has not made headlines quite like his teammates de Villiers, Kohli or even Padikkal, the off-spinner all-rounder has bowled phenomenally well. In the seven matches he’s played for RCB, Sundar may have picked up just five wickets, but here’s the big number. His economy rate has remained under five – 4.9 to be precise and the most he’s conceded in his four over 20.
7 Chris Morris: It took Morris some games to recover from his injury and finally make it to the Playing XI, but now that he has, the South Africa all-rounder has proven just how valuable an asset he is in T20s. In three matches, Morris has picked up five wickets, including a three for and scored an unbeaten 25 in his only innings.
8 Isuru Udana: Isuru Udana has done a fine job ever since replacing Dale Steyn in the Playing XI. Even though he hasn’t gone big on wickets, the left-arm seamer from Sri Lanka has kept things tight with the ball in the last three matches. Expect him to get another game and prolong Steyn’s wait to return
9 Yuzvendra Chahal: Yuzvendra Chahal has been RCB’s go-to man every time the team has found itself in a spot. With 11 wickets, Chahal is placed fourth in the list of this year’s highest wicket-takers. Chahal took 3/24 the last time he bowled to RR batsmen and will be hoping for an encore.
10 Navdeep Saini: After going for 48 runs, fast bowler Navdeep Saini has had three highly economical games, with figures of 0/18, 1/17 and 0/21 in the last three matches. An automatic retention.
11 Mohammed Siraj: Despite being taken for 44 runs in the last game against KXIP, Siraj is likely to retain his place in the team, since the only other Indian fast option RCB have is Umesh Yadav.