RCB vs MI, September 26, 19:30 IST
Virat Kohli smouldered and in front of him, Royal Challengers Bangalore wilted. It wasn’t entirely surprising that he termed the defeat to CSK harder to take than the 92 all-out before that. The difficult truth for the RCB captain, as he surely knows, is that title-winning teams rarely encounter two such varied and indifferent performances in the middle of the season.
The concerning factors are right in front of them – the break, squad changes, playing conditions – although Kohli knows there is little room for excuses now and has been unwilling to gloss over RCB’s vices. While the bowling lacks a cutting edge, there are some concerns with the batting. Are Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal playing at the same tempo? Is the team struggling for balance through the middle having to fit two uncapped batters in the top-six?
Some of the worries are shared by their Sunday opponents, who have also lost to the same two sides. For the Mumbai Indians, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have yet to rediscover last season’s rhythm and that has piled on the pressure on a Hardik-less middle-order. And therefore, one week since re-starting from a position of comfort, RCB and MI are shifting uneasily and looking over their shoulders at the uprisers. The defending champions have fallen out of the top-4, their opponents remain there but are without a win in seven games in UAE. Clearly, there’s more at play than the Kohli-v-Rohit subtext.
When:Â RCB vs MI, September 26, 2021, 19:30 IST
Where:Â Dubai International Stadium
What to expect:Â Still early days in this leg of the competition and the pitch should be good for batting, even if it is occasionally two-paced. The teams will face a challenge with ground’s dimensions if the centre wicket isn’t used and protecting/attacking the shorter boundary could dictate most of the in-game strategies.
Head to Head:Â MI 17-11 RCB. Kohli’s side won the reverse fixture, the season’s curtain-raiser in Chennai back in April. The two teams faced at the same ground last year and played a high-scoring thriller which RCB clinched in a Super Over.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Injured/Availability:Â Left-arm seamer George Garton, in quarantine, will not be available for this game.
Probable XI:Â Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, KS Bharat (wk), Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Tim David, Wanindu Hasaranga/Kyle Jamieson, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj
Injured/Availability: Hardik Pandya, who picked up an ache in training, has been rested as a precautionary measure. Director of Cricket Operations, Zaheer Khan, revealed that the all-rounder has resumed training and is close to playing. Given Mumbai’s standing, he is a likely starter for the game.
Probable XI:Â Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock(w), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya/Saurabh Tiwary, Krunal Pandya/Anukul Roy, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar
– Since 2015, De Villiers has a strike-rate of 249.40 in death overs against Mumbai Indians
– Kohli has a poor record against Mumbai Indians. His average of 27.92 is the lowest (min 10 innings) against any team. Bumrah has dismissed him thrice in the last five games.
– RCB have batted first in each of their last seven straight defeats in the UAE.