All the king's men in RCB’s way
Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
8 pm, PCA Stadium, Mohali
Royal Challengers Bangalore resume their Indian Premier League 6 campaign with a match against the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali on Monday.
The Kings XI Punjab have been scrappy as ever in this edition of the tournament but have not closed games successfully. The team also has not managed any upsets this year despite coming close at times so will be looking at the Royal Challengers as an opportunity to make a mark.
KXIP have lost Adam Gilchrist to poor form, David Hussey’s batting has come back to life now that he has found purpose as the team’s stand in skipper. Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra have contributed regularly for the side and David Miller has been very good in the middle order but they have suffered from Azhar Mahmood’s poor batting form in the tournament. The team will hope Shaun Marsh and if he plays, then former RCBian Luke Pomersbach get going and lead the team’s batting charge on Monday against RCB’s bowling attack. Gurkeerat Singh has played destructive cameos occasionally and could be dangerous if given the chance to play longer innings.
Following the trend of the tournament, Mohali have won most of their home games except one against CSK, which they lost by 10 wickets. The pitch is a very sporting one, offering pacers a bit but tall scores too are possible at the ground, making the toss an important one to win.
Chris Gayle will remain RCB’s batting mainstay but will have to successfully negate Praveen Kumar who has had a good record against RCB. AB de Villiers played a blinder against Pune and Virat will expect bigger knocks from him.
It remains to be seen if Tiwary continues to open the batting. He survived long enough against Pune to bring up his first fifty for RCB but needs a much better strike rate to continue.
The decision to play Moises Henriques paid off as the all rounder supported AB de Villiers in a crucial partnership against Pune but it was all that kept RCB from an insufficient total and should put pressure on Virat’s own batting, Kohli being overdue a good knock with his last fifty having come 5 matches ago.
Praveen Kumar has mostly been economical but hasn’t converted that into a healthy haul of wickets. Though Azhar Mahmood has been expensive, he has taken wickets and could be a threat if he plays. From the rest of the attack Harmeet Singh can be tricky with his changes of pace but the KXIP bowling has mostly failed to click together and that has cost the team the most.
Vinay Kumar is among the top bowlers of the tournament leaving RP Singh’s wild inconsistency to make the crucial difference in games this season. Ravi Rampaul’s exclusion and Muttiah Muralitharan’s ineffectiveness against Robin Uthappa led to a few nervous moments at Pune and the West Indian fast bowler will be a better bet on Mohali’s bouncy pitch.
Punjab float in the middle of the points table and by all indications seem likely to miss out on the playoffs. They can still disturb the campaigns of others though and at home, their attack might enough factors going their way to pose RCB a formidable challenge.
RCB are close to sealing a playoffs slot but still have to put in a commanding performance against one of the more competitive teams of this edition. This will be the team’s opportunity to prove the win against Pune wasn’t a case of beating just the wooden spoon holders and that they are to hunt bigger game.