There’s usually a buzz when Royal Challengers Bangalore are playing. They’re among the IPL‘s richer, more high-profile teams with flamboyant owners and several star players. Their fortunes in the tournament are keenly followed by most, including a strong fan base. As they play their first game of the season in the heart of the city at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on a weekend, expect a cracking atmosphere despite the April heat.
The Royal Challengers are a team endowed with batting firepower and Virat Kohli‘s phenomenal recent run will be one of the major draw for supporters. But foremost in their memory will be Chris Gayle‘s outstanding form last season, his two centuries and three fifties being the highlight of the team’s campaign. AB de Villiers is extremely reliable in the middle order and Tillakaratne Dilshan will add some more aggro to the side after the Test series against England. Add to that the track at Chinnaswamy Stadium, which generally favours the batsman and the trend of low scores thus far this season may just be under threat.
Their opponents, Delhi Daredevils, have begun this season promisingly, beating Kolkata Knight Riders in their opening game. Irfan Pathan bludgeoned an unbeaten 42 and Morne Morkel lit up a damp evening with a couple of superb yorkers, including one that cut through Jacques Kallis. The win would be some boost to last year’s wooden-spoon winners. But an expectant Bangalore will be bracing for a Gayle airshow, even as his franchise owners have had to deal with a largely grounded fleet for some time.
Players to watch
An impressive 2010 IPL season with Mumbai Indians that included three fifties helped Saurabh Tiwary win a call-up to the national team and a bumper, millon-dollar signing with the Royal Challengers for 2011. However, Tiwary had a relatively quiet campaign last year, with 187 runs from 13 innings; he’d want to do much more than that this time around.
Roelof van der Merwe’s two wickets were overshadowed by Morkel’s destructive spell against the Knight Riders, but he’s a big asset in a Twenty20 side. He can prove effective with his left-arm spin while even opening the bowling, and showed his value by topping the wicket charts in South Africa’s MiWay T20 competition for the Titans.
The Royal Challengers played the Daredevils just once last IPL, and won a very tight game with three balls to spare. James Hopes helped the Daredevils reach 160, and a half-century from Virat Kohli and cameos from Daniel Vettori and J Syed Mohammed helped them get home.
Stats and trivia
Royal Challengers have played Daredevils eight times; they’ve won three matches and lost five.
“We want a wicket (at the Chinnaswamy Stadium) that was similar to last year. We were incredibly successful here and it probably suits batsmen and there is a bit of pace.”