IPL: Sunday 15 April Preview

Cricketer hits ball

We preview this Sunday's IPL double-header which will feature the Royal Challengers Bangalore hosting the Rajasthan Royals before the Kings XI Punjab take on the Chennai Super Kings. 

The Royal Challengers have to live up to their billing against inaugural champions and tournament returnees Rajasthan, while the Punjab players face a staunch test against a Super Kings outfit on a bit of a roll.

The Kings XI have to heed the lessons learnt against the Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers - and hopefully capitalise on the impact of Yuvraj Singh and David Miller. Chennai, meanwhile, are smarting somewhat after losing their home games to Pune - and have a point to prove. It's all shaping up for a fantastic Sunday of cricketing action, let's take a look:

Flush with the services of talismanic batsmen Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and others, Bangalore are still trying extract the best from their bowlers. The Royals, too, have some bowling concerns.

RCB vs RR | Sunday, 15 April | M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru | 12:30

To Win Match
Royal Challengers Bangalore 57/100
Tie 35/1 
Rajasthan Royals 29/20

Royal Challengers Bangalore
Bangalore's batting was arguably allowed to hide behind Chris Gayle in the past, but he has moved on, leaving big contributions from de Villiers, Kohli and Quinton de Kock in even higher demand. They can't be expected to deliver all the time, though, particularly against an increasingly streetwise Royals bowling attack. Some of the others -  Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh for instance - have to oblige.

Their bowling is called into question far more than their batting, though. At a M Chinnaswamy Stadium with rather small boundaries, the host attack is going to have to be on point from the first delivery. Opening with Yuzvendra Chahal and bringing fellow spinner Washington Sundar on first change, during the mandatory opening powerplay, could prove key.

Rajasthan Royals 
Rajasthan lost to Bangalore on both occasions in 2014 and again in 2015, so an attempt at revenge is certainly on the cards - more importantly a bid to avoid a quintet of defeats to their arch rivals. Ajinkya Rahane is proving an astute skipper in the absence of the banned Steven Smith - and can't let the additional responsibility of the captaincy detract from his primary role with the bat.

All eyes will be on Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat, who simply have to prove their worth after fetching the highest prices at the player auction earlier this year. For his modest cost, meanwhile, Ben Laughlin is of great value - and sports the ability to upend a power-packed opposition batting order in a single over, as witnessed against Delhi recently.

Verdict: Rajasthan Royals 29/20
Now is the time for Rajasthan to snap a rather unflattering string of defeats against Bangalore, who boast home ground advantage, but substantially less momentum than their opponents.

KXI vs CSK | Sunday, 15 April | Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali | 16:30

To Win Match
Kings XI Punjab 21/20
Tie 35/1 
Chennai Super Kings 82/100

Kings XI Punjab
First things first for the hosts - they'll almost definitely want to bowl first if captain Ravichandran Ashwin triumphs at the toss. Mujeeb Ur Rahman's ability to partner fellow spinner Axar Patel, before the seamers continue the good work started by Ashwin can then kick into play, if all goes according to plan. They, of course, need to be mindful of a definitive counter from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company.

Sunday's rivals have an intriguing history. Chennai won twice in 2015, but Punjab were the victors both times a year prior. Whoever wins on the weekend could set a hefty precedent for the next group match - and perhaps even the tournament's business end. New to the captaincy, Ashwin's inexperience versus his willingness to experiment will certainly be in the spotlight during this high-pressure encounter.

Chennai Super Kings
Security issues, unfortunately, have seen Chennai's home matches moved from their Chepauk stadium to Pune. This match, however, is an away fixture - and they'll be determined to show that they don't necessarily rely on home ground advantage too much. Dhoni, as always, will play a massive role in marshalling the troops through tense junctures.

They have already secured telling wins over reigning champions Mumbai Indians and former title holders Kolkata this season. This fine form could swing either way - the pressure and expectation will soon toll, or it'll inspire them to bigger and better throughout. They'll be missing a key cog, however, after Suresh Raina was ruled out of the next two games due to a calf injury.

Verdict: Chennai Super Kings 82/100
There is a lot to be said for momentum in cricket, particularly the shortest format. Both teams have it, but the Super Kings boast a bit more - and should clinch this won comfortably to right the wrongs of 2015.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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