Kings XI Punjab desperately needs a win against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.
It has been a poor campaign for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League as they have struggled to clinch victories even after delivering good performances. The Punjab based franchise needs to win against Royal Challengers Bangalore on October 15 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium to have an outside chance of qualifying for playoffs.
Meanwhile, Royal Challengers Bangalore has finally clicked in the competition after two years of misery and struggle to find the right balance in the team. A win on Thursday will help them to firmly cement a place in the top four of the competition.
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have been the standout batsmen in the tournament, but they have not been well supported by the middle order at Kings XI Punjab. Chris Gayle is likely to play on Thursday, so KXIP will have more firepower at the top of the table. Nicholas Pooran has shown glimpses of his talent, but he needs to be more consistent.
The bowling unit of KXIP has also struggled in the past five games after making a strong start to the campaign. Mohammed Shami has been struggling to stop the flow of runs. Ravi Bishnoi has been a shining light for KXIP, but the bowling unit will have to deliver together to stop RCB’s prolific batting lineup.
RCB comes into this game after a huge victory against Kolkata Knight Riders. AB de Villiers scored quickfire innings of 73 runs in that game, while Aaron Finch and Virat Kohli also made handy contributions with the bat. The top four batsmen are in good form for RCB, so the onus will be on them to score the bulk of runs against KXIP.
Chris Morris has completely transformed the bowling department of RCB. The South African all-rounder can play some strokes low down the order, but his accurate bowling upfront allows RCB to win the battle in the powerplay. Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal have also formed a solid partnership to take wickets in the middle overs. Sundar has also managed to bowler economical spells in the powerplay.
KXIP did inflict a heavy defeat on RCB when these two sides met early in the tournament. However, the tables have turned and RCB comes into this game as favourites. The return of Gayle will add spice to this game, so it should be a good encounter. Moreover, victory is equally important for both sides due to different reasons.
By Kiran Thakare