KPL 2018 | Bijapur Bulls start campaign against Hubli Tigers in Bengaluru

After ending the previous season of the KPL as the runners-up, Bijapur Bulls will look forward to starting their 2018 campaign on a high against Hubli Tigers on Thursday at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Led by Bharath Chipli, the Kiran Kattimani-owned franchise has all bases covered.

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Coming into the tournament after a successful run last year, Bijapur will try to maintain their team balance and skipper Chipli will have to play a major role for the team to achieve their targets. The team’s batting will mostly depend on Bharath Chipli while KC Cariappa, who has the X-factor of bowling both leg-spin and off-spin without changing the grip of the ball, will be seen shouldering the responsibility of the bowling attack. For the Tigers, much will depend on their experienced captain R Vinay Kumar as the team will miss the services of Mayank Agarwal in first few matches as the Kings XI Punjab player will represent India B in the Quadrangular series starting from August 17.

Chipli was the second highest run-getter for the Bulls in the previous season with 174 runs which included a couple of crucial fifties. With around 13 years of experience in domestic cricket, he is expected to lead the side properly, pretty much the way he did in 2017. Though the Bulls started off their campaign on a disastrous note last year, the combined team effort was seen after the first couple of games which helped them reach the finals.

While batting is their main forte, they have also been blessed with a fantastic young bowling unit which can take down any team on its day. Spinners like KC Cariappa and KP Appanna will be quite eager to do well in the bowling department. The 24-year old mystery spinner Cariappa will definitely want to leave aside his last year’s performance where he managed to pick up only a couple of wickets in eight matches with an economy rate of more than eight.

On the other hand, the Tigers from Hubli are not far behind thanks to the experience and gaiety brought to the team by Vinay Kumar, who had a good KPL last year with both bat and ball. He amassed 143 runs at an average of more than 23 and a strike rate of 110 in 2017 and with the ball he claimed six wickets with an economy rate of 5.89. The Hubli think-tank will be expecting their skipper to lead from the front from the very beginning of the tourney. The spin department will be handled by the highest wicket-taker of the previous season Abhishek Sakuja. The 31-year-old slow left-armer had scalped 14 wickets from seven games last season and his economy rate was below six as well.

In the absence of Mayank Agarwal, former Bijapur Bulls opener Mohammad Taha is expected to take the responsibility of providing a good start with the bat for the Hubli Tigers. Taha was the third highest scorer for the Bulls in 2017 and coming from the Bulls’ camp will help him the opening encounter for sure in understanding the strategies during the initial overs.

At the Chinnaswamy Stadium, which has always provided pitch full of runs, bowlers of both the sides are likely to experience nightmare on Thursday evening. Yesterday, a Robin Uthappa special kicked off the league in a great way as Bengaluru Blasters beat Stuart Binny-led Belagavi Panthers by 67 runs in a high-scoring encounter. However, the weather in the Garden City has not been good for cricket for the last few days. The city has experienced rainfall in the evening since last week which might deter the spirit of cricket fans of both the sides. The forecast for Thursday is not great either, and the sky is likely to remain cloudy with chances of rain in the evening as well.

Both the teams can now only hope that the rain will stay away and the teams will have a great game to start their respective campaign in the 2018 edition of the Karnataka Premier League in Bengaluru.

Bijapur Bulls Squad: Bharath Chipli (C), Ronit More, Naveen MG, KC Cariappa, Mir Kaunain Abbas, KP Appanna, Suneel Raju, KN Bharath, Rishabh Singh, Bhavesh Gulecha, Anurag Bajpai, KL Shrijith, Zahoor Farooqui

Hubli Tigers Squad: Vinay Kumar (C), Abhishek Reddy, Abhishek Sakuja, Praveen Dubey, Kranthi Kumar, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Taha, Nitin Bhille, Anil I G, Rahul Naik, Sunil Kumar Jain, AM Kiran

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