Indore: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will aim to push towards the play-offs with a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here on Monday.
Punjab are third in the points table with 12 points from 11 matches, while Bangalore are out of the contention to finish top four at the end of the round-robin stage. They are seventh with eight points from 11 games.
Only Sunrisers Hyderabad, with 18 points so far, have guaranteed themselves a place in the play-offs. So there are three places still up for grabs for the knock-outs.
However, the problem for Punjab is that they arrive into the match on the back of two consecutive defeats and face a team that will be without pressure. From now onwards, the Virat Kohli-led Bangalore will be out to derail other teams’ chances.
In their past two defeats, Punjab lost to Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders. In the loss to Rajasthan, the problem was their batting, failing to chase down the 159-run target. Against Kolkata, the Punjab bowlers had a day to forget, conceding 245/6. However, Punjab managed to reach 214/8, falling short by 31 runs.
To win against Bangalore, Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin would know that both their batting and bowling must click at the Holkar Stadium.
Punjab’s batting mostly relies on openers Lokesh Rahul and Chris Gayle as the duo have accumulated 537 and 332 runs respectively. The Punjab openers have been a major reason behind their success as the two have handed a perfect start to their side on several occasions in this year’s edition.
Karun Nair has been inconsistent with 246 runs scored so far, while veteran Yuvraj Singh and Mayank Agarwal are yet to make their presence felt in the middle-order. The trio’s poor form will be a major cause of concern for the team management. However Punjab will be relieved by the fact that Aaron Finch returned to form with a 34 during the loss to Kolkata.
In the bowling department, Australian pacer Andrew Tye (20 wickets) and Afghan teenage spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman (14 wickets) have been brilliant. Pacer Ankit Rajpoot (8 wickets) and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (six wickets) and medium-pacer Mohit Sharma (6 wickets) need to raise the bar against Bangalore, who possess a strong batting line-up.
Bangalore have Virat Kohli (466 runs) and Ab de Villiers (358 runs) — two of the best batsmen in world cricket. Apart from the duo, Mandeep Singh has been impressive having scored 245 runs so far but the others have been inconsistent.
Kohli took to social media and credited de Villiers for the win against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday. He tweeted: “Have always loved batting with this guy. Makes things simpler for the person at the other end. Today was yet another special partnership. Glad to finish on a winning note. #DDvRCB #IPL2018 @ABdeVilliers17.”
During the post-match presentation, Kohli had also mentioned that it was an ‘honour’ to bat with ABD. “It’s an honour for me to bat with AB. We were looking to finish it with a few more overs to spare to help the net run rate, but the two points are very important,” he said.
Their bowling department will feature pacemen Umesh Yadav (14 wickets), Mohammad Siraz (8 wickets) and Tim Southee (5 wickets) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (10 wickets).