IPL 2018: Virat Kohli vs R Ashwin battle spices up battle of big-hitters

Virat Kohli’s will hope power-hitters play to potential against Kings XI Punjab, who have a point to prove in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 clash at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.

Though RCB have always enjoyed great , they have been caught out whenever rivals have pegged them down and then targeted a relatively weaker bowling attack.

Though the 2018 has strengthened the bowling, Nitish Rana’s part-time off-spin that netted AB de Villiers and Kohli in two successive deliveries saw their opening game against Kolkata Knight Riders end in defeat.

The first home match for RCB this season gives a great opportunity to show they have found that balance, against another team searching for its first IPL title. A small ground with great batting conditions give Virat Kohli’s side a great chance to get the first win in IPL 2018.

The India skipper has pinned faith in wrist spin over finger-spin in the national team in the shorter formats, and Kings XI Punjab skipper R Ashwin, the man who lost his limited-overs spot last year, gets a great chance to prove a point.

On captaincy debut, Ashwin guided KXIP to an easy win over Delhi Daredevils in Mohali, even bowling four leg-breaks to show his variation can be an effective weapon.

Picked over Ashwin in limited-overs cricket, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will be RCB’s main spinner, but will have to rediscover his form after leaking runs for country and IPL team in recent games.

MATCHING POWER

New Zealand batsman, Brendon McCullum, has said his job is to target heavy scoring in the six powerplay overs, after hitting a 27-ball 43 against KKR. AB de Villiers warmed up with a 23-ball 44, but will look to end an unwanted record of RCB losing 11 games in a row when he has played.

The game has the potential to be a high-scoring affair. KXIP opener, KL Rahul, who was not retained by RCB this season, is on a high after lashing the fastest IPL half-century – off just 14 deliveries – against Delhi Daredevils.

And playing in his home ground will be added incentive for the Karnataka batsman as KXIP look to respond in kind. Australia batsman Aaron Finch is expected to be back, having missed KXIP’s first game due to his wedding on April 7. He is likely to partner KL Rahul.

However, it remains to be seen whether Chris Gayle gets to play at his favourite Chinnaswamy Stadium. The Jamaican was one of the batting heroes of RCB until last season, and was a late buy for KXIP in the player auction in January.

Teams had chased the target in each game in IPL 2018 until Rajasthan Royals defended a score against Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday. However, Delhi Daredevils were at a huge disadvantage in Jaipur after the stoppage due to rain left them chasing 70 in just six overs.