Royal Challengers Bangalore would want to dust off the past defeat and make a comeback, whereas the out-of-breath Kings XI Punjab would be hoping to repeat their performance from the last time
The road of trouble does not seem to come to an end for the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) as they are languishing at the bottom of the table in yet another season with only two points to show against their name. The captain KL Rahul has been proudly boasting the Orange Cap on his head, whereas his close ally Mayank Agarwal has fought a good race with him to keep the cap juggling between the two. But come captaincy, the same KL Rahul has been pale and often terribly unlucky- the team has lost at least three matches, if not more, after being in sheer control over things.
The unit, at one time initially, had both the coveted caps in the team with Mohammed Shami leading from the front. But that is precisely what Punjab’s story has been this year- individual brilliance and an alarming dearth of team-effort. There’s an age-old adage in cricket: A team, and not an individual, win matches; to say that KXIP has not clicked as a team, would be a statement as apt as any. It is still not over for them, but anything lesser than a victory to start the second leg of the tournament would certainly reduce their tag to party spoilers.
In a rather somber campaign this year, KXIP’s only moment to celebrate came against the same team they will be up against at Sharjah International Cricket Stadium on Thursday: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Pushing them against the wall, the Kings XI won the match by a whopping 97 runs. However, 25 matches later in the tournament, the gap between the two sides in the points tally is of four positions as Virat Kohli’s RCB sits at the third spot after 7 games with five victories to KXIP’s one in as many games.
Punching in right this time, the RCB unit has been headstrongly moving towards securing a playoff berth. Although not all is fixed for them yet, and any complacency in the second-half could push them away from the top four spots. This time, RCB would want to dust off the past defeat and make a comeback, whereas the out-of-breath KXIP would be hoping to repeat their performance from the last time they met Kohli and Co.
Pitch and conditions
It seems that the track at Sharjah has suddenly become kind towards the bowlers as the scores and number of sixes have come down considerably in the games of late. Further, the pitch has slowed down to a good extent and, quite unsurprisingly, the batsmen have not found going as easy as they did in the initial part of the tournament. The powerplay will be a crucial time for teams to decide their momentum as the new ball could be exploited by batsmen to their favor. Dew will set in in the latter half of the game, but it will not have any material bearing on the game.
Playing Combinations for RCB vs KXIP
Royal Challengers Bangalore Probable 11
Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal have been performing their duty well, and the former, who was misfiring as per his reputation, getting 47 in the last game is a good sign for the team. With both AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli clicking together, the top-four look intimidating, to say the least. No one described de Villiers’ mayhem better than Virat Kohli did in the post-match, “…only AB could have done that (scoring 33-ball 73 on a slow track)”.
The spin-twins Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal have been in the wickets constantly and struck well in the last game too, where they bagged 3 wickets giving 32 runs in their 8 overs combined. If anything, the addition of Chris Morris has only bolstered the side more and he has performed well coming in straight away.
Probable 11- Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (WK), Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Kings XI Punjab Probable 11
The openers have constantly been in the runs, whereas Nicholas Pooran has played his role well coming in at number three. With half of their league matches gone, KXIP must be looking forward to bring in Chris Gayle, who missed the last couple of games due to a stomach bug. The Universe Boss might be the right man to change their fortunes and make a turnaround for the team.
Mohammed Shami and Ravi Bishnoi have continued to impress with the ball whereas youngster Arshdeep Singh has struck well. The team might want to give James Neesham a look-in in place of Sheldon Cottrell.
Probable 11- KL Rahul (C), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Simran Singh (WK), Mandeep Singh/Deepak Hooda, Sheldon Cottrell/James Neesham/Hardus Viljoen, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Bishnoi
RCB vs KXIP Head to Head
Played- 25 |RCB won- 12 | KXIP won- 13 | NR- 0
Match Timings- 7:30 PM (IST), 6:00 PM (Local).
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