These teams could not have had more distinct starts to their IPL campaigns. After what looked like the start of extremely familiar feelings for RCB with a loss to the Punjab Kings despite scoring 205 in the first game, they have returned with the might of their bowling lineup to really stamp their authority in the league over the last week.
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On the other hand are the Mumbai Indians, who are also having some familiar feelings – they are, after all, known to start really poorly when a season takes off. However, the more familiar feeling of comfort and trust in their roster is beginning to fade away slowly. It’s three losses in three games for Mumbai so far, and without the one thing that used to always be in their control – a consistent bowling lineup – they’ve looked confused and meek.
It hasn’t happened a lot during the course of the IPL, but it will be Royal Challengers who will be going into this game as favorites.
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Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Mumbai Indians Odds
Royal Challengers Bangalore (-118)
The main thing to speak about as we preview the Royal Challengers Bangalore is the fact that Glenn Maxwell is back. The T20 superstar had missed the early parts of the IPL season through a combination of getting wed shortly before the season began, and more recently the mandatory COVID-19 precautionary quarantine, which had kept him out of the game that they won against the Rajasthan Royals.
It looks like Maxwell’s entry into the team will be a pretty straightforward swap and one that RCB seems to have accounted for before the season even began. Sherfane Rutherford is most likely the player who will make way, and Maxwell is expected to slot into No. 4, just behind Virat Kohli, and possibly put an end to the Royal Challengers’ experiment of playing David Willey in the middle order.
Shahbaz Ahmed is likely to slot into No. 5, followed by Dinesh Karthik at No. 6, unless the third wickets fall with under five overs to go. The other option, of course, would be to retain Rutherford and bolster the batting even more, as it has been the one thing that hasn’t looked very convincing for them this season.
That would mean leaving Willey out and reducing the frontline bowling options to five bowlers, with Maxwell capable of chipping in a few overs himself as sixth bowler. We think they will likely go with the former.
Mumbai Indians (-106)
It is extremely rare to look at the Mumbai Indians and feel like they’re panicking. But that seems to be the exact case at the moment, particularly with Rohit Sharma openly voicing his frustrations at the end of their last game when Pat Cummins dismantled them with a 15-ball 56. With Daniel Sams in particular looking like he needs a rest, the Indians have some serious combination issues to sort out, of the kind they’ve never had before.
While Suryakumar Yadav is back – and in style – they’ll be digging deep into their ranks to sort out their team combination. Tim David, one of the bigger picks of the auction, was dropped last game to make way for South African starlet Dewald Brevis.
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Do they now bring David back and drop Daniel Sams? Or do they go for a more like-for-like swap in bringing in Australian fast bowler Riley Meredith to strengthen the bowling lineup?
The latter is the most plausible option for them, but Meredith has yet to have enough time at top-level cricket to be banked on as a reliable bowler. With Maxwell, in particular, returning for the Royal Challengers, they will be feeding into some of their strengths by picking an express fast bowler.
Bangalore vs Mumbai Pick
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Presumably, Mumbai’s plan for the overseas all-rounder spot will have been to have Daniel Sams as the primary starter and Fabian Allen backing him up. But such are the doubts within their ranks at the moment that it’s really hard to see where they’ll go from here with all the different, but not robust options at their disposal. On the other hand, Royal Challengers look like a well-thought and balanced team at the moment, with results going their way.
We think it’s going to be another struggle for Mumbai on Saturday unless Jasprit Bumrah really comes to the fore with the ball.
Bangalore vs Mumbai Best Bet
Harshal Patel To Be RCB’s Top Bowler (+275)
There is plenty of firepower in Mumbai’s lower-middle order who will be batting when Harshal Patel comes on with the ball.
Given how their form has been and given the shakiness of the group at the moment, we expect them to make some mistakes and for Patel to capitalize on them. Note that this is a high-risk option given the phase of the innings where Patel bowls, but that’s what has set him apart in the IPL over the last two years.