Rain poses threat to Bangalore-Pune clash
The city of Bangalore, this summer, has been witness to some of the highest temperatures in history. The simmering heat has been alien to most inhabitants given the otherwise clement conditions. However, much to the city's relief, the rain gods relented, but relented at a time when Royal Challengers Bangalore aim to turn their disappointing campaign around. In the run-up to Bangalore's clash against Rising Pune Supergiants in the ninth season of the Indian Premier League, showers not just affected the home side's practice sessions on successive days, but also, the thunderstorm a day before the match day posed a threat to the fixture with the same forecast for Saturday (May 7).
The extent of waterlogging seen at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium post a 40 minute downpour on the eve of the game raised concerns of the time it would consume to clear the water and deem the field fit for play, should rain hit tomorrow. It validates why the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) proposed the new subsurface aeration and vacuum-powered drainage system from SubAir which will be imported from the United States of America.
Bangalore's story of the tournament has been one, which has been played on repeat. Their depleted bowling attack, that has failed to post a threat to the opposition, has meant heavy reliance on their batsmen. While Virat Kohli has consistently been among the runs, Chris Gayle has failed abjectly with single-digit scores in his last six innings. After returning home after away games for two weeks, they hoped for a turnaround in the Jamaican's fortune, but that has been in vain.
Stuart Binny's return brought to the side some positives with bat and ball, but it didn't help them cross the line over Kolkata Knight Riders, who belted 120 runs in the latter half of the game to pick up a stunning five-wicket win. With that loss, Bangalore were placed seventh, with only Kings XI Punjab below them with one loss less; Bangalore's one win of their two so far, had come over Pune at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Pune have been hit by a series of injuries with Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh and Kevin Pietersen ruled out, but that didn't stop them from bagging a win against a half-strength Delhi Daredevils. But a win nevertheless, will give them confidence coming into a game where the strategy is simple: to contain Bangalore's batting.
MS Dhoni is no stranger to Kohli's ways of working, with the pair having played enough to know enough about each other's strengths and weaknesses. However, with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane coming good for Pune all season, and latest entrant Usman Khawaja's positive start on his IPL debut, Pune will not be tempted to make too many changes to the side. George Bailey, who played his first game of the IPL against Delhi, was sprightly in the field, but didn't get the chance to bat as the game was done and dusted by the top five.
Either way, the Dhoni factor alone will attract audiences, with spectators touted to be making the journey all the way from Chennai to watch their hero in action. With Pune placed only one step ahead of Bangalore, with six losses in nine games, it makes for an interesting clash, weather permitting.
When: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rising Pune Supergiants, May 7, 16:00 IST
Where: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
What to expect: Showers are being forecast with the city seeing overcast conditions and heavy rain in the lead-up to game day.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Adam Milne has suffered a hamstring injury and won't be partaking in the tournament any longer. It has been learnt that Bangalore has written to IPL's technical committee to request for a replacement, but are yet to hear back in order to draft in another in his place. Chris Jordan might be given a go in place of Gayle to bolster a faulting bowling unit that have not just failed to restrict opposition, but also, even pose an obtuse threat. It was a tad surprising that Bangalore left out Kane Richardson for the clash, who has been one of their better bowlers, to draft in Gayle to boost an already-strong batting unit a move which perhaps cost them in the end. Sarfaraz Khan, after two handy knocks, had been left out as well. It will be interesting to see the combination the side opts to go with in the likelihood of rain stoppages, which will bring in the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method into the equation.
Rising Pune Supergiants
Pune have been forced to make changes to their side given their mounting number of injuries. Factoring in rain and the subsequent D/L/S system that could come into place, it won't be a surprise if they include Albie Morkel for some quick runs, if the need arises. Also, given that Dhoni has been unable to find the right combination, some changes might be seen, as has been observed so far.