The 18th match of IPL 2022 will see Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) lock horns with Mumbai Indians (MI) at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday (April 9). Incidentally, both teams played each other on the same day last year to kick off IPL 2021.
While RCB are well placed with two wins out of three, five-time champions MI are winless after three games this season. Both sides, however, are well stacked across departments with match-winners aplenty who could well make a splash tonight.
Given the say that the bowlers have had in the tournament thus far, all eyes will be on the bowling attacks of the two teams in Pune.
On that note, we will try to predict the three bowlers who could end up with the most wickets in tonight’s RCB-MI clash.
#1 Harshal Patel – bagged a five-fer and a hat-trick against MI in 2021
“Purple Patel” will go up against a team he fancies and has an enviable recent record against. Harshal Patel bagged his first-ever five-fer against Mumbai Indians on this very day last year. He followed it up by claiming a hat-trick against the same team in Dubai during the second leg.
Harshal accounted for a total of nine wickets across two games against MI last season and could hold the aces once again for RCB tonight. While he hasn’t picked up wickets in clusters just yet, Harshal has looked the part with his typically accurate bowling, especially in the death overs.
With his dexterous cutters difficult to put away and a certain Kieron Pollard in Mumbai’s ranks, Harshal, who has dismissed the former West Indies skipper twice in seven T20 innings, will have a big say. Expect him to be amongst the wickets at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
#2 Jasprit Bumrah – MI’s lethal weapon
Jasprit Bumrah has blown hot and cold in IPL 2022 thus far. While he picked up three wickets against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) amidst Jos Buttler’s masterclass, the star Indian pacer had to endure a couple of lackluster outings on either side.
That said, with Mumbai desperate for a win and the majority of the responsibility falling on Bumrah’s shoulders, expect him to step up against RCB tonight. Mind you, Bangalore are set to be bolstered by Glenn Maxwell’s return, making Bumrah’s four overs all the more pivotal from Mumbai’s point of view.
In what could well be a case of “cometh the hour, cometh the man,” the ace speedster could be the man for the occasion. There’s also the small matter of a blockbuster matchup against Virat Kohli, with Bumrah having accounted for the former RCB skipper’s wicket on four occasions.
It’s hard to put it past Jasprit Bumrah to get amongst the wickets then, isn’t it?
#3 David Willey – RCB’s strike force in the powerplay
One of the understated performers for the Royal Challengers thus far has been David Willey. The Englishman has managed to swing the new ball and keep it tight in the powerplay, while also chipping in with the odd wicket.
With Harshal Patel and Mohammed Siraj taking care of RCB’s death bowling, Willey has been entrusted with the task of breaking open the game for his team with the new ball. His role won’t be any different tonight, particularly with opposition skipper Rohit Sharma up against him.
Rohit’s potential kryptonite – left-arm swing bowling – could be exploited again, courtesy of David Willey’s natural inward angle. With left-hander Ishan Kishan at the other end, Willey could shape the ball across the corridor and bring the keeper and the slip cordon into play.
There is enough context to suggest that David Willey could well be among the wickets for the Royal Challengers in Pune.
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Q. Who will win tonight’s clash at the MCA Stadium?
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