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An inconsistent Royal Challengers Bengaluru would be eager to hit the turnaround button when they host Lucknow Super Giants, who will keep an eye on regular skipper KL Rahul’s fitness, in the IPL in Bengaluru on April 2.

The Royal Challengers are currently eighth on the table with two points from three matches, and alarmingly, their net run rate too has dipped to -0.71 after a heavy defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders here last week.

This is not to undermine the side under Faf du Plessis, who himself is struggling for big runs, but its ability to dish out consistent cricket is a matter of debate at this point.

Several reasons are there for that overbearing feeling. It starts with the RCB batting line-up in which Virat Kohli is the only constant with two fifties from three matches.

But Du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar and Cameron Green, who constitute the cream of RCB’s top and middle-order, have so far made up for a faltering coalition.

The quartet’s collective returns from three matches stand at – Du Plessis (46, Avg: 15.33), Maxwell (31, Avg: 10.33), Green (54, Avg: 18) and Patidar (21, Avg: 7), and terming them underwhelming is an understatement.

It meant that RCB had to often rely on their late-order batters like Dinesh Karthik, Anuj Rawat and Mahipal Lomror to add meat to the total.

In that context, the RCB might give a break to Patidar for this game and bring in someone like Suyash Prabhudessai, who can also roll his arm for an over or two.

The senior batters’ struggles have percolated to their bowling department too. Mohammed Siraj offers the most glaring example.

The lead pacer has taken just two wickets in three matches, conceding 10 runs an over and he needs to step up immediately.

Siraj’s lack of bite has robbed RCB of a chance to take some early wickets in the Power Play and put the opposition under pressure, something he had done quite consistently during IPL 2023.

The situation has turned even grimmer as Siraj’s new-ball partner Alzarri Joseph, RCB’s Rs 11.5 crore buy in the auction, has been totally rudderless, taking a solitary wicket and leaking 9.4 runs per over.

So, the hosts might ponder the inclusion of either Reece Topley or Lockie Ferguson against Lucknow in place of the West Indian.

The spin unit of RCB offers an even more bewildering view as none among Glenn Maxwell, Karn Sharma and Mayank Dagar, the most impressive of the lot, have bowled their full quota of four overs in any of the three previous matches.

In fact, Maxwell’s off-spin was not even employed in their last match against the Knight Riders.

To make matters worse, they don’t have many reliable choices in the dugout too.

Rahul under scanner

On the other hand, the Super Giants have their own set of worries as the fitness of regular captain Rahul, who came in as an Impact Sub in their 21-run win over Punjab Kings, will be closely monitored.

Will the LSG continue to use Rahul as an impact player with Nicholas Pooran wearing the captain’s armband or will he return to his normal three-in-one role of skipper, batter and wicketkeeper? We will have to wait for the answer.

Be that as it may, the Lucknow side, the whole of the Indian cricket ecosystem too, will be delighted to see the emergence of Mayank Yadav, a fast bowler who can effortlessly touch 150 clicks.

But the 21-year-old Delhi quick will have a different kind of test at Chinnaswamy as compared to the Ekana Stadium, the venue of his IPL debut against Punjab.

Here, Mayank will have to nullify a smoother pitch and shorter boundaries but the current form of RCB batters will certainly fill him with the hopes of swelling his tally of wickets.

Teams (from):

Royal Challengers Bengaluru: Faf du Plessis (c), Glenn Maxwell, Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar, Anuj Rawat, Dinesh Karthik, Suyash Prabhudessai, Will Jacks, Mahipal Lomror, Karn Sharma, Manoj Bhandage, Mayank Dagar, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Akash Deep, Mohammed Siraj, Reece Topley, Himanshu Sharma, Rajan Kumar, Cameron Green, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Tom Curran, Lockie Ferguson, Swapnil Singh, Saurav Chauhan.

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c), Quinton de Kock, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Kyle Mayers, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Devdutt Padikkal, Ravi Bishnoi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Krunal Pandya, Yudhvir Singh, Prerak Mankad, Yash Thakur, Amit Mishra, Shamar Joseph, Mayank Yadav, Mohsin Khan, K. Gowtham, Shivam Mavi, Arshin Kulkarni, M. Siddharth, Ashton Turner, Matt Henry, Mohd. Arshad Khan.

Match starts at 7.30 PM.

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