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CSK v MI, IPL 2020, 1st match

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Dwayne Bravo is injured and will probably miss at least one more game, Chennai Super Kings’ coach Stephen Fleming said after his side made a winning start to the IPL season by beating the defending champions Mumbai Indians. Bravo didn’t bowl in the CPL final on September 10 either because of his knee injury.

Sam Curran, chosen in place of Bravo, turned out to be an inspired selection as he backed up his bowling effort of 4-0-28-1 with a six-ball 18 at the business end of the chase. “Dwayne was injured so he is probably out for the first two games,” Fleming said. “But Sam’s performance was a big positive. His attitude is quite infectious. His performance today was quite outstanding. Straight off the plane yesterday.

“If Dwayne was fit, it would have been a toss-up if he [Curran] had played at all. So he has taken this opportunity and put some pressure on.”

It wasn’t necessarily a toss-up between Curran and Bravo, though. Lungi Ngidi was the other quick the Super Kings used. He went for more runs, but he too staked a claim for an overseas spot with three wickets. Fleming didn’t rule out both Curran and Bravo playing together, but he said they were yet to assess all the conditions they will encounter in the UAE.

The Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, continued their trend of a surprise pick in the season opener, choosing James Pattinson this time for his first match for any franchise outside Australia. This was the first T20 he was playing outside Australia since 2012. He, too, returned impressive figures of 4-0-27-1, but he, too, was more a forced pick than an inspired selection. At the toss, Rohit Sharma revealed that Nathan Coulter-Nile had a niggle, which is why he wasn’t available for selection.

There was no update from the Mumbai Indians on the nature of Coulter-Nile’s injury and when he might become available.



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Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab, Sharjah

Pro Tip: Top-order batsmen from both sides and spinners from the Royal Challengers are must-haves.

Our XI: Devdutt Padikkal, Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami

Substitutes: Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Navdeep Saini

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection.

Captain: KL Rahul

Rahul has been consistent with three half-centuries and a century so far. His poor strike rate has hurt his team, but the volume of runs is a big plus. With the pitches slowing down, Rahul is an ideal pick as he takes his time to settle down before picking up pace later on.

Vice-captain: Virat Kohli

Kohli has shrugged off his patchy form, scoring 238 runs in the last four innings with only one dismissal. Though he had a hard time at this venue in the last game, he can be expected to make the best use of the flat pitch and the short boundaries this time.

Hot Picks

AB de Villiers: de Villiers is coming off a match-defining knock at the same venue, where he hit 73 off just 33 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders. This season, he has a strike rate of 235.84 at the death, the second best among all batsmen who have faced 50-plus balls in that phase of the game.

Yuzvendra Chahal: Chahal has picked up ten wickets at an economy of 7.07 so far. Even at a small ground like Sharjah, where the spinners have struggled, his figures were 1 for 12 in four overs against the Knight Riders.

Chris Morris: The Royal Challengers have looked a different bowling unit since Morris has come in. He has already picked up five wickets in two games and has gone at an economy of 4.50. Since 2018, Morris has the third best economy of 8.55 at the death in the IPL among all bowlers who have bowled 80 or more balls.

Differential Picks

Washington Sundar: Washington has been a revelation for the Royal Challengers this season. He has been used in the powerplay – his preferred bowling phase – and has responded well. He has picked up four wickets in his last two games while giving away just 5.14 per over. Moreover, his overall economy rate in the tournament is even lower, at 4.90.

Ravi Bishnoi: Bishnoi has cleverly varied his lines and lengths while also changing his pace. He has picked up eight wickets so far at an economy of 7.85. Also, in the last two games in Sharjah, there have been encouraging signs for spinners: seven wickets have come at only 5.41 per over in 24 overs.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Since batsmen from the team batting first have been more successful in Sharjah, choose your captain between Kohli and Rahul after the toss.

  • Chris Gayle is most likely to replace Glenn Maxwell for the Kings XI. If that doesn’t happen, bring in Mayank Agarwal for Gayle.

  • There are five bowling options suggested, given the pitch has become slower. But if a fresh pitch is used, consider replacing Chahal with Agarwal or Aaron Finch depending on who bats first.



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Virat Kohli wants reviews for wides and high full-tosses

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The DRS, at present, only allows players to review lbws and decisions involving edged catches. Should its scope be expanded to allow reviews for wides and no-balls for high full-tosses? Virat Kohli certainly thinks so.

“I am going to speak as a captain,” Kohli said during an Instagram Live chat with his India team-mate KL Rahul on the Puma India handle. “As a captain, I would like to have the ability to review a wide, which could be a wrong call, or a waist-high full-toss, which could be a wrong call.

“We have seen this historically how big these things can be in such a high-profile tournament like IPL and in general T20 cricket.

“It is a fast-paced game and you can miss a small margin and we have all seen this is a big factor. If you lose the game by a run and you are not able to review that wide, it could make a massive difference in someone’s campaign.”

Rahul agreed with Kohli. “If that rule comes in, it is very good,” he said. “You can give a team two reviews and say you can use it for whatever.”

At present, teams are allowed only one review per innings in T20 games, including in the IPL.

Asked if there were any other rule changes he would like to see, Rahul made a radical suggestion. “If someone hits a six over 100 metres, it should be given more runs,” he said. “I will ask my bowlers about this.”

Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore go head-to-head against Rahul’s Kings XI Punjab on Thursday in Sharjah.



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Match Preview – Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab, Indian Premier League 2020 2020, 31st Match

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Big picture

It’s Chris Gayle against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Conditions apply, of course. The condition of Gayle’s fitness – he’s “fully recovered” as of October 12, but is he back to match fitness?

Conditions underfoot, too, with the venue being Sharjah. Alright, so the pitch is not the belter it was at the start of the tournament, but the boundaries are still the same size. A Gayle mis-hit could still be six at Sharjah, so if his timing is not completely there due to his own rustiness or the surface’s slowness, that might not matter.

Many expected Gayle to have played in IPL 2020 before this, perhaps as early as Kings XI Punjab’s second game, which was their first bout against the Royal Challengers. Two matches in for both teams, Kings XI seemed ready for a great run while the Royal Challengers had tasted a big defeat that could have made old doubts resurface given how their past two IPL seasons had gone. But the tournament has changed beyond recognition for these two teams since that game. That win remains Kings XI’s only one so far. For the Royal Challengers, the loss was just a blip.

The Gayle-against-his-old-franchise trope lends a fresh tinge to a rivalry that has plenty of sub-plots already. Kings XI had been nicknamed ‘Kings XI Karnataka’ before IPL 2020 began, with coach Anil Kumble along with several prominent players hailing from the state. The Royal Challengers have only Devdutt Padikkal as a prominent “local” player. Moreover, the Kings XI have plenty of ex-Royal Challengers players in their ranks apart from Gayle, including captain KL Rahul.

Rahul will have a tricky dilemma to resolve if Gayle does play. The West Indies batsman fits naturally at the top of the order, but so do Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who have been putting together substantial partnerships in this IPL. One of them will have to drop to No.3. He will also have to decide on which overseas player to leave out for Gayle: go all in on the batting and bring Gayle in for Mujeeb Ur Rahman, or do a swap with Glenn Maxwell. Neither Maxwell nor Mujeeb have been at their best so far, and Kings XI will have to choose between going all in on batting at a venue that’s still the most batting-friendly in this IPL, or giving themselves more bowling options.

The Royal Challengers look well settled, and require no changes unless there are fitness issues.

In the news

  • “I know you’ve all been waiting for such a long time,” Gayle has announced. “The wait is over.” He did add this disclaimer: “unless something dramatic happens” again. But barring that, all the indications are that Gayle will play.

  • Maxwell has pointed to his ‘changing roles’ within IPL franchises for the disparity between his IPL record and his performances for Australia. He said he’s still getting used to coming in late in the innings and putting the finishing touches to what the top order does.

  • The Royal Challengers bowling has been on point this season, and Virat Kohli put that down to good planning, thorough preparation, and mindset. “If your bowling unit is strong, then you have a good chance of going deep in the tournament,” Kohli said.

Previous meeting

Rahul hit the highest IPL score by an Indian batsman, helped by two dropped catches along the way, as the Kings XI romped to a 97-run win. The Royal Challengers bowling attack has been revamped since then though, with Chris Morris and Isuru Udana coming in, in place of Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav.

Likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Aaron Finch, 2. Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Washington Sundar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Mohammad Siraj, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 KL Rahul (capt), 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh

Strategy punt

  • Kings XI might be best served by having Gayle open with Agarwal with Rahul dropping to No.3. While Rahul is the leading run-getter in the tournament, his slow strike rates have hurt the team more than helped. Rahul has felt the need to “bat through”, which is why he’s adopted a less risky approach. But if he comes in after a good start, it might allow him to bat with greater liberty.

  • Mujeeb Ur Rahman has given up 83 runs in eight overs in the two matches he’s played so far, but if Kings XI continue to show faith in him, it will be worth having him bowl in the powerplay. Both Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal, the Royal Challengers openers, have had their troubles with spin in this IPL. While Finch has a strike-rate of 146.00 against spin, he’s also been dismissed four times in 73 balls faced. Padikkal has been dismissed just once, but his runs against spin in IPL 2020 have come at a strike rate of 105.66. He hasn’t bowled to Padikkal yet, but Mujeeb has a good record against Finch overall despite not having dismissed him: Finch has faced 27 balls but scored only 24 off Mujeeb.

  • Nicholas Pooran has been the Kings XI most dangerous batsman, perhaps, having got his runs more rapidly than anyone else and with the range to dominate against any type of bowling. One possible match-up against him that the Royal Challengers might want to explore is Navdeep Saini. The quick bowler has got Pooran out three times in 23 balls, while Pooran has taken only 21 runs off him. So keeping a few Saini overs in the bank might be a good ploy.

Stats that matter

  • 53.50 and 152.85. Those are Gayle’s numbers against the Royal Challengers overall. Granted, overall numbers against franchises mean little in the IPL where line-ups change every season. But Gayle does seem to have a liking for whoever is donning the Royal Challengers colours.

  • Washington Sundar’s economy rate in IPL 2020 is a staggering 4.9, this despite bowling half his overs in the powerplay. It’s the best economy rate in the tournament currently, given a minimum of 10 overs.

  • Yuzvendra Chahal needs two wickets to get to 200 in T20s.



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