The second part of the double header in the Indian Premier League on Sunday comes from the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, a venue which will be hosting the competition for the first time in 11 years, as the Punjab Kings take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It is quite incredible that the Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won this competition with the embarrassment of riches they have had through the years and they begin a new era here. The Punjab Kings do too so this one is full of intrigue.
If you look at the Punjab Kings in recent times in this competition they have clearly underachieved, especially when you consider that KL Rahul led the run scoring charts two seasons ago. The problem they have had is they just couldn’t find a way to stem the ridiculous flow of runs they were conceding at the end of the innings. In signing Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada and Odean Smith they hope they will have addressed that accordingly.
The other problem the Kings had in recent times was that there wasn’t a whole lot of batting once teams got through their top three. You have to give the Punjab hierarchy credit for binning so many players and getting to work in the auction and they have purchased a very dangerous looking outfit. They will only get stronger once Jonny Bairstow becomes available later in the competition as well. If Mayank Agarwal can do nothing wrong tactically then Punjab could be sleepers in this competition.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have never been short of superstar cricketers but it hasn’t combined to see them win this title yet. Virat Kohli has now stepped down as captain with Faf du Plessis the man assigned the task of bringing the trophy to Bangalore. He might have his work cut out early doors though while the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood are away on international duty, especially with AB de Villiers having retired since last season.
There were some eye catching signings made by the Royal Challengers in the auction though with Wanindu Hasaranga of particular interest. His four overs of leg spin will be interesting to watch but he could float up the order and inject life into an innings that needs a spark. David Willey could be coming in as low as eight in this team so they certainly don’t lack for batting depth even without Maxwell so if they are good enough with the ball then RCB should go well.
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Liam Livingstone hasn’t really lit up the IPL in a way many thought he might do but these Mumbai grounds give him the opportunity to do some real damage over the course of the campaign. His spin bowling could be handy if part-time overs are needed too.
I am interested to see how Wanindu Hasaranga goes in this competition. Teams are often reluctant to sign overseas leg spinners because the Indian players play spin so well but RCB have gone with him. His international record is terrific and if he can replicate that here he’ll be a huge asset.
It isn’t easy to bet on this match. I say that for a couple of reasons. The first is that this ground hasn’t staged the IPL for 11 years so we’ll need to judge conditions largely on the here and now rather than what has gone before. The other reason is because both teams are missing key players on international duty so I’m not going to go too mad on this game, although my gut instinct is that this is a ground we can get stuck into as the competition develops.
I’ll take the one bet here though. That comes in over 40.5 boundaries. Looking back at the last time this venue was a home ground in the IPL scores weren’t massively high but the boundary count generally was and that would fit the model of the two Mumbai tracks used more often in the competition where the ball comes onto the bat nicely and the outfield is lightning fast. Punjab Kings have clearly set their stall out to go big from the top and keep on going and the Royal Challengers Bangalore don’t lack for men who can get the ball to the boundary. I like the over on this boundary line.
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