Virat Kohli and his RCB batting-supremos will be hoping to capitalize in the runs category in their next encounter against Kings XI Punjab, a big score from someone in the top order would have got them over the line against Kolkata. Punjab have started this year’s IPL superbly, some might say they’re the dark horse of the tournament given their underwhelming-history in the franchise.
The Royal Challengers are a big, big chance to register their first win playing in front of a very vocal home crowd who will throw all their support behind their team. Knight Riders recruits Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav did their best to inflict some pain of their old side with the ball and did a reasonable job of it, in the end Kolkata got the best of Bangalore and chased down their total with seven balls to spare. Woakes picked up three wickets while Yadav had a brilliant four over spell going at just 6.75 runs per over and claiming two vital top order wickets. The two seamers showed why they were highly sought-after in the IPL for their effectiveness, but not even they could stop pinch-hitter Sunil Narine who did early-damage to Bangalore’s winning-aspirations in that run chase. Narine’s fifty was the difference between winning and losing in the end, had one of the Royal Challengers star-batsmen went on with their innings they may well have walked away with the points. Apart from Quinton de Kock, Bangalore’s star-studded top order all contributed starting with Brendon McCullum’s quick-fire 43, captain Kohli’s composed 31 and a six-hitting marathon from the one and only AB de Villiers who ended on 44. If it wasn’t for Mandeep Singh’s 37-run cameo down the order, the Royal Challengers could have easily been dismantled a lot earlier. Labelled as one of India’s most promising up & coming spinners, Washington Sundar got a taste of just how tough International-standards in T20 cricket can be as Kolkata picked him to pieces in his four overs. The way the Royal Challengers are currently utilizing their overseas players, a lot of pressure is on the top order to perform given that three of their foreign players (McCullum, de Kock & de Villiers) feature in it. They have other alternative options in the squad so they can balance out the XI, but this might be their preferred option for all we know – batting strength at its best!
Facing a difficult task ahead of them, Kings XI Punjab would be quietly-confident that they have the ability to defeat this Royal Challengers outfit on their home turf after a quality win against the Daredevils in their season opener. It was a big decision to leave out one of the IPL’s biggest names since the franchise was established, that being none other than Chris Gayle who was moved on by the Royal Challengers ahead of the 2018 competition. The gamble not to play Gayle paid off in the end, but I’m not quite sure that Punjab will be able to resist his selection for too long given what the 38-year-old is capable of. This looms as a massive match for Gayle as well, he’s up against his old side if he’s picked in the XI which would make for highly-entertaining viewing. They might not need him though after what KL Rahul dished up to Delhi in his return to T20 cricket, blasting the fastest fifty in IPL history as the scoreboard ticked-over at a staggering rate. Rahul’s 16-ball slog-fest included 6 fours and 4 sixes which gave his team plenty of time to accumulate runs rather than swinging at every ball like a madman. Overshadowed by his teammate’s dominance at the top, Karun Nair played his role in the middle order to perfection as he brought up his half century off 33 deliveries which just about sealed the deal for Kings XI. Add Gayle to an already-impressive line-up featuring Yuvraj Singh, David Miller and Marcus Stoinis, Punjab just about match Bangalore’s firepower in the batting department. Captaining the side for the very-first time, Ravi Ashwin did his job with the ball and can be relied upon to make key breakthroughs at crucial times, it’s worth mentioning that he was very-economical against the Daredevils. The bowling may not be their strong point either, but knowing they have Mohit Sharma who has been a super-consistent bowler in his five IPL seasons with a total of 85 wickets at 24.81 should give them some stability in that area. Australia’s Andrew Tye went wicketless in his first match of 2018 for Kings XI, but he’s another who can really make a difference when he finds form.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Royal Challengers Bangalore | 8th match | Bengaluru
- Virat Kohli
- AB de Villiers
- Umesh Yadav
- Chris Woakes
- Mandeep Singh
Wildcard pick – Yuzvendra Chahal
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kings XI Punjab | 8th match | Bengaluru
- KL Rahul
- Mohit Sharma
- Karun Nair
- Yuvraj Singh
- Ravi Ashwin
Wildcard pick – Aaron Finch
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Bangalore probably paid the price for stacking their top order with three overseas specialists, but the question on everyone’s mind is will they persist with it? The fact that they have Parthiv Patel in the squad gives them the option of adding an extra overseas bowler/all-rounder, but Quinton de Kock poses a lot more of a threat with the bat than Parthiv which could be what they’re going for. Spinner Pawan Negi is likely to return in place of youngster Washington Sundar, it was bewildering that Negi didn’t play the opening match in the first place given his dominance with the ball in last year’s IPL.
Kings XI Punjab
As much as we’d all like to see Chris Gayle back on the IPL stage blasting sixes into orbit, it appears he’s not a priority-pick at the moment after he missed out on the XI against Delhi. It appears Australian opener Aaron Finch who missed the first game due to wedding commitments will be the likely-inclusion to furthermore bolster Kings XI’s batting line-up. That could potentially mean that three Aussies will feature in Punjab’s XI for the next match (Finch, Stoinis & Tye). That could mean that Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman could be the unlucky man to make way, although Tye’s wicketless outing could also see him as a potential omission.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (possible) – 1. Brendon McCullum 2. Parthiv Patel (wk) 3. Virat Kohli © 4. AB de Villiers 5. Sarfaraz Khan 6. Mandeep Singh 7. Chris Woakes 8. Washington Sundar/Pawan Negi 9. Tim Southee 10. Umesh Yadav 11. Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kings XI Punjab (possible) – 1. Aaron Finch 2. Mayank Agarwal 3. KL Rahul (wk) 4. Yuvraj Singh 5. Karun Nair 6. David Miller 7. Marcus Stoinis 8. Ravi Ashwin © 9. Axar Patel 10. Mohit Sharma 11. Andrew Tye/Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.