Having found some light at the end of the tunnel, Royal Challengers Bangalore will be keen to expose the chinks in Kings XI Punjab’s armoury during their must-win IPL encounter here tomorrow.
RCB got some breathing space after their five-wicket victory against Delhi Daredevils while Kings XI Punjab, after a brilliant run at the initial stages, are currently struggling with back to back defeats.
Despite losses to Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders, KXIP are in the top half of the league with 12 points while RCB are still languishing at the second last place in the table.
However in IPL, strange things have happened at the business end of the tournament and RCB, under Virat Kohli, are likely to put a lot of pressure on the slipping KXIP.
While Kohli and AB de Villiers anchored an easy chase against Daredevils with stylish half-centuries, KXIP bowlers were under the pump, being taken to cleaners by Sunil Narine and Dinesh Karthik as KKR scored a mammoth 245 in the last game.
Both the teams are overtly dependant on their batting with Kohli and De Villiers holding forte for the RCB while Preity Zinta co-owned outfit looks up to KL Rahul (537 runs) and Chris Gayle (332 runs) for inspirational performances.
Such has been the gulf in performance between skipper Kohli and other batsmen in the team, despite blowing ‘hot and cold’ throughout the season, he is team’s top scorer by a distance with 466 runs from 11 games. De Villiers (358 runs) is 108 runs behind his skipper, although he has played two games less. Mandeep Singh (245 from 11 games) is third in the list and is another 200 runs (221 runs) behind Kohli.
For KXIP, Rahul has been in a different league with five half-centuries and a strike-rate of 162 plus and an average of nearly 60. Rahul will be desperate to get some support from Gayle, who has gone quiet after initial carnage. A quickfire 50 from Gayle can change the complexion of the game.
However, it is the bowling which has let both RCB and KXIP down on many occasions.
For KXIP, the standout bowler has been Andrew Tye with 20 wickets at an economy rate of 8 per over while teenage mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman has been exceptional with 14 wickets at a miserly rate of 6.99 per over.
The problem area has been skipper
Ravichandran Ashwin’s inability to get breakthroughs with only six scalps from 11 games at 8.13 runs per over.
Axar Patel, the only player retained by the franchise, has fared even worse. He has got chance in only five of the matches with only three wickets in his kitty at an economy rate of 8.73.
Tye’s back-up pacers Barinder Sran (4 wickets from 6 games at an economy rate of 10.40) and Mohit Sharma (6 wickets from 6 games at an economy rate of 10.88) have been disappointing and this is where the runs have been leaked.
In case of RCB, Kohli’s propensity to tinker with bowling combinations after almost every game has had an impact on the performance. Only India internationals Yuzvendra Chahal (10 wickets from 11 games at an economy rate of 7.57) and Umesh Yadav (14 wickets from 11 games at an economy rate of 8.23) have played all the games.
The next specialist bowler who got to play more than five games is Mohammed Siraj (8 wickets from 8 games at an economy rate of 9.13).
Save Chahal, the spinners have been a big flop. Washington Sundar’s inexperience (economy rate of 9.60 with 4 wickets from 7 games) and Pawan Negi’s profligacy (economy rate of 12.25 in 2 games) have hurt Kohli and Co’s chances.
Chris Woakes got 8 wickets from five games but an economy rate of 10.36 meant that the skipper had to use Tim Southee (5 wickets from 5 games at an economy rate of 8.42).
Head to Head:
KXIP 12 – 9 RCB
At Holkar Stadium
RCB lost to KXIP by eight wickets in their head-to-head encounter last year at this venue.
KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, David Miller, Manoj Tiwary, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, AJ Tye, Ankit Rajpoot
Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh. Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal