World’s best bowler Jasprit Bumrah sledging world’s best batsman Virat Kohli.
That’s how the official broadcasters of the IPL are marketing Royal Challengers Bangalore’s clash with Mumbai Indians.
The biggest talking point before Thursday’s (March 28) clash in Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, though is whether the mini-battle would happen at all. Bumrah’s fitness is under the scanner after the bowler injured his left shoulder during Mumbai’s first match against Delhi Capitals.
Fortunately, the injury is not too serious and Bumrah has joined his side in Bangalore. He even tweeted that he’s ‘ready and roaring’; Mumbai will breathe easy if that is indeed the case.
Beyond the Bumrah availability factor, both sides will be looking to bounce back from defeats in the respective opening matches.
Bangalore lost to Chennai Super Kings after being bowled out for just 70 at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. The pitch was as slow as it could get, but Bangalore also had themselves to blame.
They had the opportunity to bat first but struggled to adjust to the spin. Had they aimed for a score of around 120, they might have gotten more. But batsman after batsman played attacking strokes only to be dismissed for a below-par total.
Kohli, though, will be pleased with the bowling. They stretched Chennai till the 18th over, although a win was always unlikely. Now they’re back to familiar territory, and their batsmen too should strike form.
Mumbai had quite a contrasting game. They lost to Delhi in a high-scoring encounter where Rishabh Pant’s pyrotechnics ended up being the difference. Pant was in such form that even Bumrah conceded 40 from his four overs!
In reply, Mumbai had a top order failure before Yuvraj Singh and Krunal Pandya reduced the margin. Yuvraj scored a half-century in his maiden match for the franchise, and his form in the middle order is crucial given Rohit Sharma will be opening in all matches.
Shimron Hetmyer: The Windies batsman made a duck on IPL debut, falling run out after attempting a nervous single. A lot of Bangalore’s chances depend on Hetmyer; Kohli and AB de Villiers bat in the top three or four, leaving Bangalore’s middle order historically weak. Hetmyer could change that, perhaps starting with Thursday’s match. The big hitter should enjoy batting on one of the best pitches, and smallest grounds.
Yuvraj Singh: Like Hetmyer is for Bangalore, Yuvraj’s role will be key to Mumbai. Unlike Bangalore, Mumbai do have a deep batting line up with Ben Cutting slotted in at No. 8! However, most of those are attacking batsmen who at times need a glue. That could be Yuvraj. He had started on a good note, and will be keen to continue that way in what could be one of his last IPL seasons.
Team news/Availability updates
Bangalore: Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis continue to remain unavailable as they are with the Australia side for the ODIs against Pakistan. Bangalore are unlikely to change their XI although they lost the first game.
Mumbai: There’s an air of uncertainty around Bumrah, but the good news for Mumbai is that Lasith Malinga has been given clearance by Sri Lanka Cricket to play the entire IPL. It remains to be seen if they give him a go straightaway. Jason Behrendorff is with the Australia side in UAE.
Rohit might also be tempted to bring in Mayank Markande having seen Bangalore struggle against spin.
RCB: Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, AB de Villiers, Shimron Hetmyer, Colin de Grandhomme, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini.
MI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting/Lasith Malinga, Rasikh Salam/Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah*.
RCB: Virat Kohli(capt), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Heinrich Klaasen, Himmat Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Marcus Stoinis, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Prayas Barman, Akshdeep Nath, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee, Mohammed Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile.
MI: Rohit Sharma, Jason Behrendorff, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Salam, Yuvraj Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav and Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper).