RCB versus Rajasthan Royals, this will be a virtual ‘shootout’ in IPL 2024

Virat Kohli with Mohammed Siraj
Virat Kohli with Mohammed Siraj (PC: RCB/X)

Over the past few years, there has been enough talk about Virat Kohli’s game against spinners who take the ball away from him in the shortest format of the game. After all, his strike rate was around 110 in the middle overs versus spin in last year’s IPL. However, he has answered most of the questions in the IPL 2024 by looking more assured at the crease versus that mode of bowling. In that context, it sets up an intriguing contest against Yuzvendra Chahal in the do or die Royal Challengers Bengaluru-Rajasthan Royals Eliminator game in Ahmedabad tonight. 

So, what has Kohli done better this season while facing the tweakers? Maybe he has broken it down to the basics. Just transport yourself back to the Gujarat Titans-RCB game. Kohli had come under some criticism for not playing with intent versus Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kohli, though, silenced his detractors in the very next game. When he faced Sai Kishore and Rashid Khan, he was ready to go inside-out over covers or rock on to the back foot to play. It was a clear indicator that he was watching the ball closely and picking the length nicely. 

Meanwhile, the wily Chahal will try to entice Kohli to play the big shot. The leg-spinner isn’t exactly a big turner of the ball, but he befuddles the batters with subtle changes in flight and pace. Depending on the nature of the soil, if there is any grip on offer, it would bring Chahal even more into the game. 

The contest is a lot more than just a match-up between the duo, with the focus being on RR’s losing streak and RCB’s red-hot form. The Rajasthan franchise has been slipping ever since tasting a one-run defeat to SRH. With Jos Buttler leaving the IPL for England duty, RR would be sweating on their opening combination. Tom Kohler-Cadmore played a nervy innings, albeit on a slow pitch in Guwahati. Yashasvi Jaiswal has also not been among the runs. In that backdrop, the onus would be on Riyan Parag and Sanju Samson to provide muscle to the batting line-up.

RCB, who are on a stunning six-match winning run, have a lot of things going right for them. For starters, they have made the right calls by including Swapnil Singh. The left-arm spinner has been among the wickets and also economical. The batting engine is also performing smoothly. Moreover, pacers like Mohammed Sirsj and Yash Dayal have found their form at the right time. Form book says RCB, but RR would believe it is all about winning one game to turn around their fortunes.