The wheels are starting to fall off for Kings XI Punjab who have now lost four out of their past five games, yet they still remain in the top four solely due to the fact that they strung together a four-game winning streak last month. It seems like an eternity since the Royal Challengers have budged from seventh spot, wins have been hard to come by in general for them this season. Against a perishing-Kings XI outfit, RCB are a big chance to win back-to-back games for the first time in the tournament.
Not even a red-hot KL Rahul can steer Punjab in the right direction as their woefully-out of form middle order continues to halt their momentum in the tournament, and as a result are becoming a huge burden on the team. It’s remarkable really, apart from Delhi’s Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul has been the most prolific run-scorer in the competition for the past couple of weeks amassing 245 runs in three innings, teaming up with Aussie seamer Andrew Tye who’s delivered back-to-back four-wicket hauls and is currently the IPL’s leading wicket taker in 2018 with 20. That just goes to show that individual brilliance isn’t a recipe for success, amongst Rahul & Tye’s resounding feats there’s also been plenty of negatives to come out of their previous performances which wouldn’t please the coaching staff. You take the good with the bad when it comes to West Indian-slogger Chris Gayle, he’s more than proven his worth already in the tournament with scores of 63, 104*, 62* & 50. It’s been their middle order who’ve let them down significantly, particularly in the past five games where they’ve completely gone missing. It was all well & good when both Gayle & Rahul were producing the goods earlier last month, in all honestly they weren’t really required due to the two openers early dominance in IPL 11. It’s now starting to unravel for Kings XI with Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh and even Karun Nair’s form starting to fluctuate, Aaron Finch however was one of the batsmen who looked dangerous in his quick-fire 34 against Kolkata. Apart from the super-consistent Andrew Tye & Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Punjab has also had their troubles with the ball this season. Mohit Sharma has lost his touch & skipper Ravi Ashwin has been underwhelming for his new side taking just six wickets so far, improvement is needed from a number of their players if they’re to stay in the hunt for the title.
The Royal Challengers are just a couple of wins away from resurrecting what has been a disappointing-IPL campaign, however it remains to be seen just how difficult the task at hand for them will be. Given Bangalore’s wins have been few and far between this season, Virat Kohli and his charges would have to play some inspired-cricket in order to get back into playoffs contention. It’s debatable that their previous win against the Daredevils left little to the imagination, that may well be the case but the opportunity for two of their star batsmen to regain some form in the competition was priceless. An inspirational captain’s knock from Virat Kohli (70) accompanied by the emphatic-AB de Villiers who struck an unbeaten 72 off just 37 deliveries sparked RCB back to life just in time. This team is so-heavily built around both Kohli & de Villiers that it’s easy for the rest of the team to get carried away with such a colossus of a combination, an accurate reflection of the teams overall performance with not enough contributors with the bat. The decision to finally play Parthiv Patel over Quinton de Kock was seen as a move in the right direction, but that should have led to Brendon McCullum getting an extended-opportunity at the top of the order which would have really added an element of surprise to RCB’s top order. Instead they’ve trialled Manan Vohra and Moeen Ali in the opening slot, and it’s been just about as disappointing as expected. They have the option to bring back Chris Woakes if need be, Tim Southee has been serviceable since his inclusion but is probably equally as effective as the English all-rounder. The Royal Challengers will continue to hunt for wickets through Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, but they aren’t without their options in the squad with plenty of other candidates sticking their hand up. If RCB can somehow control Kings XI’s opening batting combo, that could lead to the resurrection of Bangalore and the demise of Punjab in many ways.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kings XI Punjab | 48th match | Indore
- KL Rahul
- Andrew Tye
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
- Chris Gayle
- Aaron Finch
Wildcard pick – Yuvraj Singh
Top 5 fantasy picks | Royal Challengers Bangalore | 48th match | Indore
- AB de Villiers
- Virat Kohli
- Umesh Yadav
- Yuzvendra Chahal
- Parthiv Patel
Wildcard pick – Brendon McCullum
Kings XI Punjab (possible) – 1. KL Rahul (wk) 2. Chris Gayle 3. Yuvraj Singh 4. Karun Nair 5. Aaron Finch 6. Axar Patel/Manoj Tiwary 7. Ravi Ashwin © 8. Andrew Tye 9. Barinder Sran/Ankit Rajpoot 10. Mohit Sharma 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (possible) – 1. Parthiv Patel (wk) 2. Brendon McCullum 3. Virat Kohli © 4. AB de Villiers 5. Mandeep Singh 6. Sarfaraz Khan 7. Moeen Ali/Colin de Grandhomme 8. Tim Southee/Chris Woakes 9. Umesh Yadav 10. Mohammed Siraj 11. Yuzvendra Chahal.