The 14th edition of Indian Premier League will kick-off with a blockbuster contest between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians on April 9 in Chennai. Chasing their first IPL title, Virat Kohli's side will be raring to make a statement in the season opener against the defending champions. However, it won't be easy for them as they have been handed a few setbacks ahead of the new season. With some key players unavailable, it will be interesting to have a look at the probable playing XI that RCB might opt for on Friday.
RCB to be without two key players
The franchise will unfortunately begin their campaign with two of their star players. Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa won't be available for the contest as he will be joining the team few days later after his marriage. On the other hand, their leading run-scorer from IPL 2020, Devdutt Padikkal is currently in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. The 20-year-old opener is also set to miss the first game of the season.
Azharuddeen likely to open with skipper Virat Kohli
Skipper Virat Kohli has already confirmed that he will open the batting for RCB in IPL 2021. With Padikkal out of the first game, Kerala batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen is expected to open at the top of the order. The 27-year-old is an explosive cricketer and his heroic 54-ball 137 run knock against Mumbai in SMAT 2021 came while batting as an opener. It could just be a blessing in disguise for Azharuddeen as he gets an opportunity to showcase his talent, batting alongside his idol.
Christian could take the 4th overseas slot
The star duo of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell are definite starters as they take on the responsibility of RCB's middle-order. Apart from them, the exciting Kiwi all-rounder Kyle Jamieson is also expected to feature in the playing XI considering the amount (INR 15 crore) the franchise spent to acquire his services. However, there could be some dilemma for RCB to choose their fourth overseas player from the Aussie trio of Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams and Dan Christian. It is expected that Virat Kohli's side might opt for veteran Christian to provide more solidity in the batting. The 37-year-old can also be a handy bowling option, especially with his slow-cutters in Chennai.
Rajat Patidar might start ahead of Sachin Baby
Madhya Pradesh cricketer Rajat Patidar is one of the most exciting names in RCB's roster for IPL 2021. The right-handed batsman was bought by the franchise for INR 20 lakh in the IPL 2021 auction. Patidar impressed everyone in RCB's recent intra-squad practice match where he scored 54 runs off only 35 deliveries. With a spot in middle-order vacant, the knock might have just came at the right moment as RCB might be tempted to give him an opportunity ahead of the experienced Sachin Baby.
Indian bowlers will need to step up for RCB
The bowling core of Royal Challengers Bangalore will once again depend on its Indian stalwarts. Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar will play a crucial on a Chennai wicket that will assist the spinners. Talking about the pace attack, the duo of Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini are expected to take on the responsibility. While Siraj's role would be to take early wickets with the new ball, Saini will have to do bulk of the bowling in death overs.
RCB's probable playing XI against MI
1. Virat Kohli (c)
2. Mohammed Azharuddeen
3. AB de Villiers (wk)
4. Glenn Maxwell
5. Rajat Patidar
6. Daniel Christian
7. Washington Sundar
8. Kyle Jamieson
9. Yuzvendra Chahal
10. Navdeep Saini
11. Mohammed Siraj