A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Match#20: Royal Challengers Bangalore v/s Rajasthan Royals

M Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore

 

Form Guide: RCB- Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, RR- Win, Win, Loss, Loss,

It is clear that both these teams are keen to experience the highs and lows of a cricket league- a high invariably followed by a devastating (and often embarrassing low). Experience could be the key (as they will argue), and it is better to be prepared to fight back in the ‘longer run’ and look at ‘the larger scheme of things’. So what if only their coaches believe that.
 

The pessimistic (and sly) view that they seemed to have peaked way too early is viewed as more of a mere blip of sorts by their respective captains- also the two best spinners on Planet Earth right now.

 

Daniel Vettori, by now, must be convinced that mass-migration to a stronger outfit may not always result in good things. While he decides to take a spiritual trip back up north (and duly roam the philosophical-thoughts-inducing fields of Haryana), his team will prepare themselves (not entirely in a different way) to take on the once-considerable might of Shane Warne and his young Indian team. Warnie’s bold strategy of dropping their bowler-turned-best-batsman and T20 specialist Rahul Dravid seems to have backfired on his spotless face- and he desperately needs some TLC (tweeting love & care) if he is to inspire his local-talent-finding outfit to further glory.

 

Until a few days ago, everything seemed hunky-dory (in his own vocabulary) and the desert sands of Rajasthan was the place to be- until SRK decided to cast Shilpa Shetty and a certain British actress friend of Warne’s as leads in his new home production. Three days (and a batting capitulation) later, things are heating up. The two actresses could indeed play a couple- the image of which seemed to have been dominating Shane Watson’s thoughts as he played all over a L. Balaji ripper.

 

Royal Challengers Bangalore: (Finalists 2009, Semi-finalists 2010)

Three losses in a row is not an ideal start by any standards for one of the strongest foreign-player dominated outfits in the country. But that may just be the problem- and players like Saurabh Tiwari and Pujara are batting too low to make a real impact. Maybe Vettori should take a leaf out of Sachin Tendulkar or Shane Warne’s (maybe not) book and start promoting the local talent and thereby having the experienced foreigners to fall back on in dire situations.

RCB
‘I’m happy, but I’m going to swear. Ready?’ 

 

Having said that, T. Dilshan continues to look like a sans-technique re-incarnation of Wasim Jaffer while opening the batting- and seems to be daunted by the prospect of maybe having to captain his national team on the coming tour to England. Needless to say, his having scored less than 100 runs in IPL 2010 has nothing to do with his current IPL form. Or is there some connection?

 

Definitely not for the reliable AB De Villiers though- as he continues to amass a considerable amount of very-classy runs in most innings (invariably more than the entire amount he scored in IPL 2010) Scoring runs in a losing cause has never looked more attractive for the neutral- especially when the man decides to reverse paddle a quick like Tim Southee for a six. Or slap Randhiv over deep mid-wicket for a DLF maximum (just trying) or… but we digress!

The Challengers are still not a winning outfit. For some inconceivable reason.

Player to watch out for: Daniel Vettori
With Dirk Nannes injured and out, Vettori seems to be having a tough time rotating bowlers- forcing him to bowl the Chris-Harrisque Virat Kohli and disillusioned T. Dilshan every game. With most batsmen looking to play Vettori out with utmost respect, he is finding it tough to make a breakthrough- and invariably ends up conceding less than 6 an over- thereby making the opposition go berserk against his other bowlers (sadly, with great success)

 

A moment of inspiration if what the Challengers need from their new captain- and one feels that the moment is not too far.

 

Rajasthan Royals: (Winners 2008)

With Gambhir having had the better of him twice in three days, Warne must now be looking forward to facing his Trans-Tasman equally-in-crisis friend hoping for some kind of captaining familiarity. Both of them know how it feels to be the best bowler in a side blessed with erratic talent and underperforming seniors.

KKR
‘Oh, the agony- he doesn’t even play international cricket anymore!’

 

Ross Taylor may savour the prospect of facing his ex-captain, though one is not sure if his cross-batted heave may work against Vettori- as he may have consistently discovered over countless net practice sessions. Watson’s stumps have been uprooted twice in two games now just when he was starting to look dangerous- and his coming into the side, as much as Warne may hate to admit, has thrown off the balance a little bit. Ask Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha- the stabilizing factors in an otherwise high-on-adrenalin batting line-up, and they might want to have a chat with Warne about life BW (before Watson).

Bowling at 155 kmph more often than not, Shaun Tait has taken his ‘license to kill’ permit too seriously, posing more life-threatening problems to his keeper than the opposition batsmen. 17 extras in 3 games is a statistic that may raise doubts over his purposeful intentions to maybe bowl an extra over every game now that he has retired (read quit) from other forms of the game.

Player to watch out for: Shane Watson
It is only a matter of time before he replicates the devastating form that brought Bangladesh to their knees and consider a spiritual tour to Tibet to understand the meaning of non-violence again. Of course, he needs to play down the right line for that- and maybe entertain hopes of beating Warne to the boundary line after a victory for the post-match hug with his owner(s).
 

Prediction:

With a considerable volume of match-winners (and losers) in the side, a potentially explosive Bangalore win could be on the cards- unless Watson, Warne and Taylor decide to pull a Trojan-style ambush in a gigantic Fosters (non-alcoholic) bottle, on their unsuspecting mineral-water-promoting rivals.

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