With the hopes of still making to the playoffs in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a resurgent Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Friday slated to be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

Placed at the bottom and already down and out of the tournament, RCB has nothing to play for except for the pride.

Kings XI will get into the game riding on the exhilarating show of their prowess against the Delhi Daredevils — 10 wickets win after bowling them out for a meagre score of 67 runs.

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Royal Challengers Bangalore is a fairytale of the cricketing stalwarts, minus the happy ending.

The finalist from last year IPL is languishing at the bottom of the points table with 5 points from the 11 games they have played this season.

The formidable batting line-up with the likes of — Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle — have so far been the silent spectators as RCB took a nose dive from the word ‘play’.

The unfathomable batting collapse of RCB can be judged by the fact that Pawan Negi ( left-arm spinner), is among the top run-getters in the squad.

The problems in RCB’s great fall run parallel with their batting line up.

Chris Gayle — 152 runs in 6 matches — has failed to provide the fireworks batting up in the order. The devastating Jamaican batsman has found really hard to free his arms against the spinners who seem to have found the way to keep him under pressure and forced to give away his wicket by playing loose shots. This has resulted in Coach Daniel Vettori to rest Gayle and play Australian Travis Head instead who has been an equally miserable — 74 run in 5 matches.

 

 

Captain Virat Kohli has looked in good touch but has failed to continue in absence of support from the other and of the wicket. The right-handed India’s captain has scored 239 runs in 7 matches compared to his last years’ onslaught of 973 runs in 16 matches.

Even the brutal AB de Villiers has been shunned to mere 196 runs so far in 7 games he has played. The South African talisman has not been able to build up the momentum after getting a good start and has given away the wicket in the penchant to score more freely.

The only bright spot in the RCB batting camp line is the presence of Kedar Jadhav in the middle order. The right-handed batsman has so far gathered 241 runs in 10 games a much better from his last season at IPL 2016 — 42 runs in 4 matches.

Bowling was never the best spot for the Royal Challengers Bangalore; however, Coach Daniel Vettori will be a definitely be pleased with the way their bowlers had kept the vigil while the team kept sliding down the hill.

The spin department with Pawan Negi (1o wickets), Yuzvendra Chahal (11 wickets) and Samuel Badree (9 wickets) have been among the pick of the bowlers and have pleased the management.

Captain Virat Kohli knows that the writing on the wall in clear for RCB, but the fiery competitor in him would want to bid adieu with some sparkling performances and furious opponents.

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With a lot hanging in the balance at this point in time, Kings XI Punjab has a tight rope ahead if they want to make it to the playoffs.

Punjab has five games to play before the final draw is released for this year’s IPL. This means they have to win at least four games to have it enough to be in the contention where run rate might as well come to play if required.

Punjab comes into tonight’s game against RCB with a very convincing 10 wickets win in their last fixture.

Coach Virender Sehwag and Captain Glenn Maxwell will be on their toes and want to keep the momentum as they will face the IPL table holders in their possible march to the playoffs — Punjab will play against RCB, Knight Riders, Gujarat Lions, Mumbai Indians and Rising Supergiant in a week to come.

Kings XI Punjab will be very pleased with the inform Hashim Amla at the top. The South African batting legend — 315 runs in the 8 matches — has been very instrumental in giving a solid start to the team and a good base for the middle order to cash in.

The highlight of Amla’s inning has been the time he spends on the crease that gives licence to the batsman on the other end to play freely. Amla, however, will not be part of the squad for long and will have to leave to national duty in a week of time.

 

 

The inclusion of Martin Guptill is another good addition to the team. Once on the song, both Amla and Guptill in the opening slot is a dangerous mix to fiddle with for any opponent bowling unit in IPL 2017.

Punjab will also be playing the rest of the games without the services of the Englishman Eoin Morgan — back to England on national duty. Sehwag will have to get back to the drawing board and find an able replacement that fits as soon as possible with not many games left in the IPL fixture for Kings XI Punjab.

Captain Glenn Maxwell — 193 runs in 9 matches — has looked in good touch in patches and really found the groove so far. The skipper should promote himself up the order and spend more time in the middle to boost the middle order for a competitive total.

The middle order of Kings XI has so far been vulnerable of the team does not get off to a good start.

The batting stalwarts of Shaun Marsh, Manan Vohra and Wriddhiman Saha need to back their ability and not go after the bowlers early in the game.

The bowling unit of Punjab looks pretty confident after a remarkable performance against Delhi in the last game — Delhi was bowled out for 69 runs, their lowest in IPL.

Glenn Maxwell will be once again required to keep rotating the bowlers as per the game demands while also not running out of options for the death overs.

Kings XI Punjab holds an advantage over Royal Challengers Bangalore by 11-8 in the 19 IPL games between them. Both Sehwag and Maxwell will want to add run to RCBs injury by adding another win to that stat.

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M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru has small boundaries and has traditionally been a belter for the bowlers. With a whirlpool of batting stalwarts in both RCB and KXIP, it will be a lot of beating for the ball around the park.

Virat Kohli and camp will not give anything for free to Punjab tonight. Glen Maxwell will have to snatch the victory from Royal Challengers Bangalore if they want a piece for themselves in the IPL play-offs.

First Published | 5 May 2017 5:29 PM
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