Royal Challengers Bangalore will kick off their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 campaign with the season-opener against Mumbai Indians in Chennai on Friday. The Virat Kohli-led team reached the knockout stages last year for the first time since 2016 and will be looking to improve upon that this year. While RCB have held on to seasoned stars like Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuzvendra Chahal, as well as a strong Indian core of Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar and Mohammed Siraj, RCB also went big in the mini-auction and got Glenn Maxwell to add some firepower in the middle orders and New Zealand’s Kyle Jamieson for some depth in the bowling department.
While Kohli is yet to win his maiden IPL trophy, the opener comes against Mumbai Indians, who Rohit Sharma has led to the title a record five times.
The India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain comes into IPL 2021 in some good form. Kohli finished the five-match T20 International series against England as the highest run-scorer, with three blistering half-centuries. Kohli also hit two half-centuries in the ODI series that followed and looks in good nick. Kohli is set to open the batting for RCB this season, a role he had taken up in 2016, which was the last time they made the final. He had hit four centuries that season, and RCB will be hoping that he can rediscover similar form this year at the top.
scored 466 runs in 15 games last season, at an average of 42.36. His strike rate, however, was just 121.35, and he will be looking to score at a quicker rate this season.
AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers has been Virat Kohli’s partner-in-crime and RCB’s most dependable batsman for several years after their captain, and they will once again be looking at him to show his class against what is arguably the best bowling attack in league. The South African has a good record against Mumbai Indians, including a stunning 133 off 59 deliveries all the way back in 2015. Even last year, de Villiers smashed an unbeaten 55 off just 24 deliveries in the first league meeting between the two teams.
He scored 454 runs in 15 games last year at a strike rate of 158.74. He averaged 45.40.
The wily leg-spinner has been RCB’s most prolific bowler since he has joined him, and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on Mumbai Indians at the spin-friendly Chepauk stadium. He was their best bowler last year as well, taking 21 wickets at an average of 19.28.
With RCB up against a deadly batting line-up, that boasts of power-hitters like Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, Kohli will be looking to Chahal to be his go-to bowler once again and get some wickets.
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