Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves. From being the finalist last year to be the first to get eliminated this season, RCB has had a forgettable tournament so far. What remains for them is to bow out with their heads held high. The one who has no fear can be a real game spoiler. They can be the ones to take teams down with them. With nothing on stake, the pride is what they’ll play for. They dragged the last match against Mumbai Indians to the last over but Rohit Sharma managed to sneak out a win. Here are the Match Preview and Predictions as the RCB take on the Kings XI Punjab.
Kings XI Punjab can really make things interesting in the points table. They have 8 points from 9 matches. With four wins in their remaining five matches, they will directly march into the eliminators. They are coming off a drubbing of Delhi Daredevils who were swung away by KXIP pacers and folded for 67.
Hashim Amla is slated to leave for national duty later this week and KXIP will face three of the current top four in their remaining matches. So this match against the bottom placed RCB assumes much more significance. Punjab really need wings from now on and become “Udta Punjab” to start flying away with wins.
Rising Pune Supergiants 161 is still the highest recorded score in the M Chinnaswamy Stadium so far this season. The wicket is expected to be on the slower side with spinners coming into play especially in the second innings. So the teams wouldn’t mind batting first here.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – STRENGTHS
Their biggest strength from now on is that they are out of race. They have nothing to play for except salvage some cheers for the fans. Yuzvendra Chahal and Pawan Negi have been the consistent performers for RCB. A B de Villiers also looked in good touch in the previous game. Virat Kohli has scored three half centuries in his seven innings. Samuel Badree is amongst wickets.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – WEAKNESSES
The flurry of low scores has been the highlight of their miserable outing so far. They don’t have even a single significant score to show in the middle order. The big gun Chris Gayle has been disappointing. Shane Watson and Travis Head have had a poor run so far. All their domestic recruits Mandeep Singh, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny and the normally reliable Kedar Jadhav have been less than ordinary. The intent to take off is clearly missing from RCB ranks.
KINGS XI PUNJAB – STRENGTHS
The bowling unit came up with a superb display of disciplined attack to skittle out Delhi for 67. Sandeep Sharma has been the pick of the bowlers making batsmen dance to his tunes especially with the new ball. Axar Patel has been consistent with the ball and the return of T Natarajan gives their bowling a much needed balance. Varun Aaron seems to be gaining his momentum. Martin Guptill has been at his destructive best upfront and Hashim Amla is in a league of his own.
KINGS XI PUNJAB – WEAKNESSES
The middle order of KXIP looks a little out of steam. Glenn Maxwell started off brilliantly but has made a streak of low scores after that. Wriddhiman Saha has flopped with the bat so far. Manan Vohra also slowed down after a magnificient 94. With slew of wins required to stay afloat in the competition, Kings XI have their task cut out.
RCB – Having no chance of qualifying for playoffs, the management would be looking to test the players on bench keeping an eye on the next season. Vishnu Vinod and Harpreet Singh may get a look in. Samuel Badree may be brought in for Adam Milne and Chris Gayle for Travis Head.
Virat Kohli (capt), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Shane Watson, Mandeep Singh, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi, Samuel Badree, S Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal
KXIP – Eoin Morgan has left for national duty. Matt Henry may be drafted in to replace a batsman.
Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill, Manan Vohra, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell (capt), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Varun Aaron, T. Natarajan
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 19, RCB – 8, KXIP – 11
In Bengaluru: Played – 8, RCB – 4, KXIP – 4
Earlier this season at Indore, RCB posted 148 riding on A B deVilliers solo act. In reply, Kings XI Punjab cruised home easily with Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 58 and Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 43.
As Kings XI Punjab are nearing the knockout phase and RCB gunning for pride, this is expected to be a hard fought encounter. Here’s what we predict
If RCB bats first
1st Innings Score: 150 – 160
KXIP wins by 5 wickets
If KXIP bats first
1st Innings Score: 160 – 170
KXIP wins by 20 – 30 runs.