The 60th match of IPL 2022 will see Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) lock horns with the Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, 13 May.
While RCB are placed fourth in the points table with 14 points from 12 games, PBKS are currently in eighth spot with 10 points from 11 fixtures.
The Royal Challengers are riding high on momentum and confidence with back-to-back victories over Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). The Punjab Kings, meanwhile, lost their most recent fixture against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) despite putting up 189 batting first.
3 player battles to watch out for in RCB-PBKS clash
Both teams opened their IPL 2022 campaign against each other at the Dr. DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai earlier this season. It was PBKS who came out on top, thanks to an end-overs blitz from Odean Smith that saw them chase down 206.
That said, the Kings need a win to stay relevant for a spot in the playoffs and they can ill-afford slipping up tonight. RCB, too, will be keen to add a couple more points and place one foot into the playoffs.
On that note, we look at three crucial player battles that could define which way this contest heads.
#1 Virat Kohli versus Kagiso Rabada
With 216 runs at a sub-20 average and three golden ducks to boot – this has quite simply been a forgettable season with the bat for Virat Kohli. That said, it isn’t going to get any easier for the superstar batter, with a certain Kagiso Rabada up against him tonight.
Rabada has hit his straps as the season has progressed, with the PBKS spearhead picking up 11 wickets in the last four games. He has also accounted for Kohli’s wicket twice in five faceoffs against the former RCB skipper, making this a mouth-watering contest to watch out for.
RCB have been going strong in IPL 2022 but with the playoffs in sight, they desperately need Kohli to get back to his best. It has to start against PBKS and if it does, how he tackles the pace, movement and guile of Rabada will dictate terms.
#2 Wanindu Hasaranga versus Liam Livingstone
The two men who were paid the big bucks at the IPL 2022 auction will hold aces to their teams’ chances tonight. RCB’s Wanindu Hasaranga enters the clash on the back of a five-wicket haul against SRH, while PBKS’ Liam Livingstone has been striking the ball as well as he ever has.
Hasaranga has been RCB’s lynchpin throughout the middle overs, breaking many a crucial partnership. Livingstone, on the other hand, seems to be challenging the boundary dimensions with each passing game, clearly showing there is no ground big enough for him to clear.
That said, the Englishman does like pace on the ball and spin could be a way to tie him down. How he picks Hasaranga’s well-disguised googlies will be pivotal to PBKS piling up a huge score – something their bowling unit desperately needs to work with, given the issues on that front.
It’s as mouth-watering a duel as it can get, isn’t it?
#3 Dinesh Karthik versus Arshdeep Singh
The best finisher in IPL 2022 against the best death overs bowler. Dinesh Karthik up against Arshdeep Singh – it can’t get any better!
Karthik has vaulted RCB out of multiple tough situations all season and fired the team to a winning total more often than not. His latest assault was against debutant Fazalhaq Farooqi, as he clubbed his way to an unbeaten eight-ball 30 against SRH last Sunday.
Arshdeep, on the other hand, has the best economy rate in the death overs this season (7.25) for a cutoff of 10 overs in that phase. He has managed to lead PBKS’ charge in that phase courtesy an ideal mix of accuracy, slower deliveries and pinpoint yorkers that he executes for fun.
It will be a different challenge altogether tonight for the left-armer, with Dinesh Karthik having rendered bowlers clueless all season with his 360 degree strokeplay. Arshdeep has dismissed him once but Karthik boasts a strike rate of 152.63 against the former. But with the seamer growing from strength-to-strength, this could well be the battle of the tournament that we’ve been waiting for.