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Fight night in Bangalore!

Updated on: 29 March,2024 07:01 AM IST  |  Bangalore
R Kaushik |

With plenty of power-hitters in either side, Du Plessis & Co prepare for fiery battle against Iyer’s KKR as both teams eye second win of the tournament

Fight night in Bangalore!

RCB skipper Faf du Plessis trains ahead of their match against KKR in Bangalore on Wednesday. Pic/Royal Challengers Bengaluru

After a decade and a half of being about Virat Kohli and an assortment of international batsmen ranging from Chris Gayle to AB de Villiers and Shane Watson to Glenn Maxwell and Faf du Plessis, Royal Challengers Bengaluru might finally be breaking the mould.

The first two matches of IPL 2024 have seen a couple of young guns come to the fore. Anuj Rawat, the 24-year-old left-hander, announced himself in the tournament opener against Chennai Super Kings last Friday, even if his 25-ball 48 during a sixth-wicket stand of 95 with Dinesh Karthik went in vain. 

Impactful Lomror

Three nights later, at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the first of three consecutive home games for RCB, another 24-year-old left-hander, Mahipal Lomror, took the Impact Player tag to heart. Lomror made only 17 not out, but they spanned a mere eight deliveries and were as integral to RCB’s victory over PBKS as Karthik’s 28 not out (10b) during the course of a game-sealing 18-ball stand of 48.

Armed with the confidence that there is more to their batting than just the top-order, RCB will approach Saturday night’s fixture against Kolkata Knight Riders believing a second win on the bounce isn’t beyond them. KKR are coming off a terrific home win against Sunrisers Hyderabad after braving a sensational late onslaught by Heinrich Klaasen and while they enjoy an excellent record at the Chinnaswamy, they won’t take RCB for granted, as ace all-rounder Andre Russell acknowledged on Thursday.

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Russell, who had a middling 2023 season, unleashed a ferocious unbeaten 64 the other night and, armed with a slightly tweaked technique and a massively altered mindset, looms as just one of several dangerous protagonists in the KKR ranks. Late replacement Phil Salt was the only one in the top five to reach double digits, so skipper Shreyas Iyer and the rest will look for game time and to hit their straps early in the season if KKR are to reprise their glory days of 2012 and 2014.

One-time RCB lad Mitchell Starc, the most expensive buy in IPL history at R24.75 crore, will look to make amends after leaking 53 in his four overs against Sunrisers. His ability to swing the ball into the right-handers is his biggest asset and if he can do that with any consistency on the morrow, he will pose innumerable problems to RCB’s right-heavy top order.

Kohli on song

Kohli warmed up for the challenges ahead with a fluent 77 on Friday against Punjab Kings, after which he proclaimed that he’s ‘still got it’. He will, however, expect greater support from du Plessis and Maxwell, who between them have made just 45 runs in four innings. Maxwell has contributed a mere three of those, but he is capable of pressing the reset button at the drop of a hat, which is precisely what a partisan RCB crowd will be hoping for.

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