Earlier this season, KL Rahul played a dream innings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as he recorded the highest individual score by an Indian in the IPL. The Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper clubbed the RCB bowlers all around the ground on his way to an unbeaten 132 off just 69 balls.
KXIP won the game by 97 runs in the end, after their bowlers all chipped in to choke RCB’s batsmen and bowl them out cheaply. It has been their only win of the tournament so far. Incidentally, it was also the Royal Challengers’ biggest defeat of IPL 2020 so far.
After that game, however, it is safe to say that the two teams have faced contrasting fortunes.
RCB have lost just the one game, against league leaders Delhi Capitals, since the defeat, whereas KXIP are yet to win another match. While KL Rahul seems to be struggling to cope with captaincy, his national team skipper Virat Kohli finally seems to be coming into his own as an IPL captain.
Operating like a well-oiled machine, RCB seem to have addressed several areas of worry that they had early in the tournament. Having bided their time in bringing South African all-rounder Chris Morris back into the thick of things, the Bangalore franchise are now reaping the rewards with the pacer having picked up five wickets in two matches at an economy of 4.50.
Another aspect that has worked in RCB’s favour this time around is their use of young Indian all-rounder Washington Sundar. The off-spinner has picked up five wickets at an economical 4.90 runs an over. More than the wickets, it is the manner in which he has suffocated opposing batsmen that has helped his team pick up the win more often than not.
While the RCB batsmen have not performed too badly themselves, with Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers coming to the party on various occasions, it is the redemption of Bengaluru’s bowlers that has been their IPL 2020 story so far.
Redemption could well be the theme of KXIP’s efforts going into this game as well. As skipper Rahul pointed out in a chat with opposite number Kohli on an Instagram chat yesterday, the Punjab outfit should be able to derive confidence from the fact that they have beaten RCB before, and heavily too at that.
With some of the league’s most destructive batsmen lining up on either side of this RCB v KXIP fixture, we could see sparks fly at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium later today. And hopes for these flying sparks have been given a further boost by murmurs of the potential return to action of a certain West Indian batsman.
IPL 2020: RCB v KXIP Match Prediction
Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell has had a torrid time in the UAE so far, and has scored only 58 runs in 7 matches at a lowly average of 14.5 and a strike rate less than 100.
What started out as whispers among fans to include Chris Gayle in the playing XI is now a social media volcano just waiting to erupt. The said eruption could take place if KL Rahul fails to utter the words “Chris Gayle comes in for Glenn Maxwell” at the toss later tonight.
The inclusion of Gayle could change the complexion of the game, of course. And although weather reports may suggest a hot and humid evening, the commuters on Second Industrial Street will need to be warned of the sixes that could potentially rain from the West Indian’s willow.
With the kind of form that KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have shown in the tournament so far, it will be interesting to see if KXIP do choose to play Gayle at the top of the order. Nicholas Pooran’s pyrotechnics at numbers 3 and 4 would further inspire hope in the KXIP fan.
As mentioned earlier, though, the RCB bowling is a different monster from last year, or even the earlier game between the two sides. In addition to the return of Chris Morris and the emergence of Washington Sundar as a legitimate powerplay bowling option, Navdeep Saini seems to have found his mojo again as well.
The wily Yuzvendra Chahal continues to be RCB’s most potent wicket-taking threat, and has 10 wickets and the sixth place on the Purple Cap standings to show for. Add to that the performances of Isuru Udana and Mohammed Siraj in the limited opportunities they have had, and it is clear as day why the likes of Umesh Yadav and Dale Steyn are now warming the bench.
If the first half of the season is anything to go by, this fixture could once again come down to KXIP’s batting versus RCB’s bowling. That said, the batting firepower that the Bangalore outfit possess should probably tilt this prediction in their favour in what should end up being a run-fest.
Prediction: RCB to win today’s match.Published 15 Oct 2020, 10:00 IST