With the Indian Premier League approaching its business end and three semi-final spots pretty much up for grabs, a no-holds-barred battle is on the cards when Rajasthan Royals lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Wednesday.
Two of modern cricket’s greatest spinners would lead respective teams on Wednesday in a battle royal which would be as much a contest between Anil Kumble’s understated leadership and Shane Warne’s charismatic captaincy.
With the IPL reaching a stage where only Mumbai Indians are assured of a semi-final berth, both Bangalore and Rajasthan have won half of the 12 matches they have played so far even though Kumble’s side rank high on the points table because of their superior net run rate.
Incidentally, both the teams are smarting from defeat in their previous encounter and whoever can regroup faster would have the last laugh on Wednesday.
The resurgent Rajasthan Royals lost to Mumbai by 37 runs, a defeat that exposed a number of chinks in their armour.
In contrast, the Royal Challengers were pipped by Deccan Chargers in their previous outing, thus jeopardising their semi-final passage that looked so smooth at one stage.
From motivation point of view, Warne and his men would go into tomorrow’s match with a score to settle and hoping to avenge the plastering they had received in Bangalore in their first meeting with Kumble’s men.
It was a grossly lop-sided show as Praveen Kumar, Kumble and Jacques Kallis shot out Rajasthan for 92 and overwhelmed the target inside 11 overs for a thumping win at home.
Warne would hope to return the compliment tomorrow and he would be banking on Michael Lumb, Shane Watson and Yusuf Pathan to milk the Bangalore bowlers.
Watson’s role extends to the bowling department as well, as is the case with Pathan.
Equally crucial will be how Warne uses Siddharth Trivedi and Aditya Dole besides casting his own spell on the Bangalore batsmen.
For Bangalore, the idea will be to shrug off last night’s defeat against Deccan Chargers and look ahead.
Any batting side that boasts of Manish Pandey, Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli is good enough to send shivers down their opponent’s spine and Kumble would hope them to click before it’s too late.
Kallis’ service will be sought in the bowling department as well but it’s Dale Steyn’s red hot form which will enthuse Kumble.
While Warne would strut his stuff on Wednesday, Kumble will also strive for oneupmanship and their duel promises to be a spectacle in itself.