The Royal Challengers Bangalore were on the receiving end of quite a bit of ridicule for having gone all out to acquire Glenn Maxwell in the auction. Three games in, the joke is on those skeptics as both RCB and Maxwell find themselves in a happy territory. RCB have cruised to three wins on the trot, the first time they have managed to begin a season in such fashion. Maxwell, meanwhile, has lived up to his ‘X-factor’ tag and has fit into what the franchise needed in the middle-order, quite immaculately.
It’s the first time since IPL 2014 that he has scored back-to-back fifties and has not just played his role of a middle-overs spin-hitter to perfection, but also provided stability with AB de Villiers, who’s been at his destructive best. RCB were impressive on the slow tracks of Chepauk where other teams struggled to get a grip on conditions, and will now move to the pacier ones of the Wankhede for their second leg, where they take on the Rajasthan Royals first-up.
Rajasthan have had contrasting fortunes, being the second-worst in the death overs so far [conceding 12-an-over twice] and losing wickets upfront – two factors that contributed to their wooden-spoon finish last year. In IPL 2020, RR never batted out a Powerplay without losing a wicket, with as many as 29 falling inside first six overs in 14 games.
This time, they’ve already lost seven wickets in the same phase. They managed just one win in three games on the back of some brilliance from their South African duo of David Miller and Chris Morris. They will need more than just the two to fire if are they are to finish any higher than they did last year. More importantly, they will need their skipper Sanju Samson to step up. After his century in the opening game, he has scores of 4 and 1.