Since their first meeting of IPL 2017, on April 18 at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Gujarat Lions (GL) have played two matches each. The South Indian franchise have lost one and had one no-result, and Gujarat have won one and lost one. For Bangalore and Gujarat, this season could not have gone any worse and their poor run of form has put these two teams in serious danger of not making the playoffs. Bangalore’s meteorological centre has forecasted match 31 to have a couple of rain interruptions.
Royal Challengers will take heart from the fact that they beat Lions at their own den in the first meeting. The batting clicked for the first time this season and the bowlers produced a good enough performance to win the match by 21 runs, after the batsmen had posted 213/2. With the Gujarat Lions’ bowling attack lacking penetration, the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers will hope to have a field night again, this time at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
While Gujarat’s batting has delivered the goods in most of their seven matches so far, the bowling has let the team down in all but one match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. This failure to click as a unit, has what cost Lions dear this season. With seven matches left, Suresh Raina and co. can turn around their form and put themselves in with a shout for the playoffs. But you cannot help but feel that Gujarat, like their match 31 opponents, have left themselves with too much to do.
Gujarat had hoped to have Dwayne Bravo playing for them at least in the second half of this season. But on Sunday, at the toss in the match against Kings XI Punjab, Raina confirmed that the West Indian all-rounder will not play any part in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League. India and Baroda all-rounder Irfan Pathan has been roped in as senior Bravo’s replacement.
Form guide: RCB vs GL
RCB vs GL Head-to-head
In four meetings so far, Royal Challengers Bangalore have beaten Gujarat Lions thrice and lost only once. RCB have tended to score big against GL as well.
RCB 3-1 GL
Match 31: RCB vs GL Playing XI
For a team who suffered an embarrassing defeat in their last match, you expect a few changes to be made to their playing XI. But the team in question here, Royal Challengers, might actually not make many changes for the home clash against Gujarat. Their top order batsmen, at least, are expected to be persisted with, including Chris Gayle, who was the second-highest scorer for RCB when they were bowled out for the lowest-ever total in IPL history.
Bangalore’s problem has been the lack of runs from their star-studded batting line-up. Of course, the likes of Kohli and AB de Villiers missed the first few matches this season, but seldom before have you seen RCB batsmen fail in unison. Because the batting line-up is struggling, Travis Head might come back into the side for Samuel Badree. This change in personnel will provide better balance and also give RCB’s batting more firepower and depth.
For whatever reason, Mandeep Singh’s string of failures with the bat hasn’t cost him his place in the side. Royal Challengers haven’t gotten anything out of the Punjab batsman, whose major contribution this season has been his catching on the outfield. Madhya Pradesh’s middle order batsman Harpreet Singh, who is Sarfaraz Khan’s replacement, might replace Mandeep for RCB’s home clash against Lions.
RCB’s probable XI vs GL: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Chris Gayle, 3. AB de Villiers, 4. Travis Head, 5. Kedar Jadhav, 6. Harpreet Singh, 7. Stuart Binny, 8. Pawan Negi, 9. Sreenath Aravind, 10. Tymal Mills, and 11. Yuzvendra Chahal
Actual playing XI for Bangalore: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Chris Gayle, 3. AB de Villiers, 4. Travis Head, 5. Kedar Jadhav, 6. Mandeep Singh, 7. Aniket Choudhary, 8. Pawan Negi, 9. Sreenath Aravind, 10. Samuel Badree, and 11. Yuzvendra Chahal
While Bangalore have had problems with their batting line-up, Gujarat’s bowlers has had a torrid season so far. With the likes of Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik scoring consistently, Gujarat have not had problems in posting competitive totals when they have batted first or once when chasing an above-par total, the batting line-up showcased its credentials and led their team to an emphatic win against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
But again, the bowling attack hasn’t been able to defend any total which the batsmen have put up on the board. As a result of their bowlers’ ineptitude, Gujarat Lions have suffered big-margin defeats to Kolkata (10 wickets), Hyderabad (9 wickets) and Mumbai (6 wickets), having batted first.
Against a quality even if misfiring RCB batting line-up, Gujarat’s bowling needs to come good. One of the problems has been the lack of variety in GL’s seam-bowling department. And, so, I expect the newly-added Irfan Pathan to come straight into the side, in place of Shubham Agarwal, Akshdeep Nath or Dhawal Kulkarni. Ishan Kishan, who scored a 16-ball 39 against RCB in the reverse fixture, might come back into the side as well, after missing Gujarat’s home clash against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.
GL’s probable playing XI vs RCB: 1. Suresh Raina (c), 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Aaron Finch, 4. Dinesh Karthik, 5. Ishan Kishan, 6. Dwayne Smith, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Andrew Tye, 9. Irfan Pathan, 10. Basil Thampi, and 11. Nathu Singh/Praveen Kumar/Dhawal Kulkarni
Actual playing XI for Gujarat: 1. Suresh Raina (c), 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Aaron Finch, 4. Dinesh Karthik, 5. Ishan Kishan, 6. James Faulkner, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Andrew Tye, 9. Soni, 10. Basil Thampi, and 11. Nathu Singh