Punjab Kings (PBKS) will lock horns against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Match 26 of the IPL 2021 season at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday. While RCB are keen to continue their winning momentum, PBKS will be looking to mend their inconsistency.
Despite beating defending champions MI in their last game in Chennai, the PBKS batting crashed against KKR as they suffered yet another comprehensive loss this season. They have now won just two out of their six games so far.
RCB, on the other hand, are coming on the back of a thrilling last-ball win over DC. They have lost just one out of their six games and look increasingly likely to make it to the playoffs again this year.
See the current orange cap holder in IPL 2021 here.
PBKS vs RCB: 3 Bowlers to watch out for
The boundaries in Ahmedabad are particularly large towards the square and this gives the bowlers that extra bit of cushion to attack the batsmen with a probing line and length. With defending totals seemingly difficult on this ground, wicket-taking bowlers have become absolutely crucial.
On that note, let's have a look at three bowlers who could have the biggest impact on the PBKS vs RCB encounter.
#3 Mohammed Siraj
From being trolled by many as a run-leaking machine to becoming one of RCB's premier Indian bowlers, Mohammed Siraj has come a long way. His excellent bowling at the death and probing lengths with the new ball have given RCB bowling that cutting edge this season.
The exposure Siraj has gained while playing Test cricket for India Down Under has certainly helped him big time. He picked 13 wickets and was the highest Indian wicket-taker in the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
In the 2019 IPL season, Siraj was leaking runs at an economy rate of 9.55. That rate has come down significantly to just 7.26 and the speedster already has 6 wickets in as many games.
The 27-year-old has been utilized very well by skipper Virat Kohli, who uses the pacer in crunch situations too. Against the likes of Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer in the last game against DC, Siraj defended 14 runs and won the game for RCB. His confidence will be sky-high and he could run through the PBKS batting line-up.
#2 Ravi Bishnoi
It was difficult to understand why Ravi Bishnoi didn't play for the first four games of the IPL 2021 season. The impact he has made on his return to the team has been worthy of taking notice.
The 20-year-old has picked up two wickets in as many games and has an incredible economy-rate of just 5. His 12 wickets in the IPL 2020 season were enough to prove that he is a proven match-winner and needs to be backed by PBKS.
Bishnoi also had a great outing last season against RCB, where he tormented them with figures of 3-32. The likes of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers have been a bit uncertain in their approach against leg-spin. This could make Bishnoi extremely handy and a genuine game-breaker for PBKS.
#1 Harshal Patel
Not many will be surprised to see Harshal Patel at the top of this list. The 30-year-old has been absolutely sensational for RCB this season, with 17 wickets from just six games. He deservingly holds the Purple Cap in IPL 2021, and appears almost certain to pick up 2-3 wickets in each game.
Apart from the thrashing he suffered at the hands of Ravindra Jadeja in the last over against CSK, Harshal Patel's variations have been difficult to read for most of the batsmen. He has been one of the main reasons why RCB have had some of the best performances at the death this season.
The large dimensions of the ground in Ahmedabad will only add to Patel's prowess as he will make full use of his cutters against PBKS. KL Rahul and his men will need to be on top of their game as the 30-year-old is capable of running through the fragile-looking PBKS batting order.