After a lone win from seven games, Kings XI Punjab finds itself on a slippery slope. Should Royal Challengers Bangalore land another blow on Friday, the host will be the first team to slip out of contention for a place in the semifinals of the Indian Premier League.
Languishing at the bottom of the table for the better part of the first half of the league, Kings XI has to win its remaining seven games to have a realistic chance of reaching the last-four stage.
Lacking pluck and luck when it mattered, Punjab did raise visions of victory in a couple of games, including the last one against leader Mumbai Indians but had very little to cheer about.
The side, which has paid around $400,000 as fine for slow over-rate in three matches with skipper Kumar Sangakkara being forced to sit out for a match after being penalised thrice, has to address a few problems in the dressing room before taking on the opposition.
The biggest among the problems facing coach Tom Moody and Sangakkara is the total disinterest with which Yuvraj Singh has conducted himself on and off the field. Stripped of captaincy at the beginning of the season, the talented left-hander has tossed away his wicket with alarming regularity. Worse, he is showing no signs of learning from the mistakes committed.
Sangakkara’s “all-is-well” line on Thursday did not have many takers, both inside and outside the Punjab dressing room. The team management is yet to find a settled combination. Shaun Marsh has emerged as the only bright spot after Ravi Bopara displayed early form. However, the bowling has been a big letdown.
If Punjab has plenty of problems, Bangalore is facing the problem of plenty. Notwithstanding Wednesday’s loss to Chennai Super Kings, Bangalore looks highly resourceful. The batting looks solid and runs deep. The bowlers have, more often than not, come good and fetched four wins from seven games.
The line-up including in-form Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli is further strengthened by big hitters like Kevin Pieterson and Cameroon White, with a steady Rahul Dravid to follow, Bangalore’s batting looks truly formidable. Skipper Anil Kumble, speedster Dale Steyn, medium pacers Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar have all delivered by turns. So, Bangalore could well be bang on target, once again.