Two days after suffering a shattering defeat at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab get ready to face the Royal Challengers Bangalore as they host Vijay Mallya’s men in the only clash of the day at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. With both teams registering just two wins in five games, it will be a clash of the bottom rungs trying to crawl their way back into the top of the league.
The home side, riding on the back of some disciplined bowling efforts, secured two consecutive wins and seemed on the way to redemption. But the party came to a screeching halt on Wednesday when KKR produced a brilliant all-round display to steamroll over the hapless host by 8 wickets.
As if there weren’t enough problems already, Kings XI Punjab will be taking the field without their inspirational skipper Adam Gilchrist, who is out due to a hamstring injury and in his place the vastly experienced all-rounder Azhar Mahmood may get to make his IPL debut. KXIP might also consider drafting Abhishek Nayar into the playing XI to bolster the batting.
In the other camp, things look much brighter. After a string of defeats, the Bangalore based team pulled off a sensational run chase against the Pune Warriors to keep the semi final spot within reach. With the conditions more in favor of seamers, Daniel Vettori might once again have to make the tough decision of playing Tillakaratne Dilshan instead of his national teammate Muttiah Muralitharan.
After two games, it is quite clear the the surface at Mohali isn’t an easy one to score on and the team winning the toss will look to put the opposition in first and restrict them to a small total.
Head to Head:
Historically speaking there is very little to choose between the two sides as in the previous eight meetings, both sides have registered four wins each. In the last game between the two sides at the picturesque Dharamshala, Adam Gilchrist bludgeoned his way to 106 and lead his side to a massive 111 runs victory.
Played – 8; RCB – 4, KXIP – 4.
Players to Watch out:
Kings XI Punjab:
Piyush Chawla: The impressive leggie had a quiet start this season but slowly got into the groove. After brilliant displays against Kolkata Knight Riders in both the home and away fixtures, the youngster has reaffirmed his utility in the team. His spell against the big hitters from Bangalore will once again be the key for the home side.
David Hussey: Twice in the last two games Hussey has been unlucky to get run-out at crucial junctures. But with the regular skipper Adam Gilchrist ruled out, the added responsibility of leading the side will fall on Hussey and it might coax out a top notch effort from him.
Praveen Kumar: The Indian pacer has been very economical in the last few outings and has kept the opposition top order in check. His battle against RCB will be his toughest challenge so far in the tournament but with his ability to swing the ball both ways in helpful conditions, he might be the answer to Bangalore’s big hitting batsmen.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Chris Gayle: Though he hasn’t been as dominating a factor as he was in the last season, his previous two innings have proven that the Gayle storm is slowly but steadily on its way. Though the conditions in Mohali don’t provide the luxury of hitting through the line, Gayle with all his experience can still be the difference between the two sides.
AB de Villiers: While Gayle has been doing the job at the top of the order, de Villiers has been RCB’s go to man in the death overs. The South African skipper was always a dangerous customer in the Twenty20 version and after his assault on Ashish Nehra, the reputation has further enhanced. With the game speculated to be a low scoring one, his role towards the end becomes all the more vital.
Virat Kohli: It is mostly the bits and pieces players who thrive in the Twenty20 version, but in Mohali this season, the specialists have ruled the roost. India’s blue eyed boy hasn’t been much of a success in the IPL but this game might prove his importance in the RCB ranks.
For RCB, the batting firepower seems to be back and the attack has some very established names. Even though Kings XI Punjab can spring a surprise or two in their own backyard, the visitors will be the runaway favorites.