Kings XI Punjab arrives in cloudy, drizzly Bangalore as the most imposing side of the IPL, after three weeks of bulldozing rivals and defying most expectations.
On Wednesday, Glenn Maxwell produced another innings of brutal intensity, replete with the kind of drag flicks and tee shots normally seen on hockey grounds and at driving ranges. The Australian racked up a fourth score in or near the nineties as Kings brushed Super Kings aside.
George Bailey’s men have, at the time of writing, made four of the five tallest totals this season, with the 231 in Cuttack the highest. With six wins in seven and as many games yet to be played, Punjab need not sweat over qualifying for the play-offs.Back home
To a Royal Challengers Bangalore side desperate to turn a faltering campaign around, the sight of the visitor will thus not be a welcome one. The two sides meet at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday, in the first of three home games in five days for RCB. It is a run of fixtures that could effectively decide the host’s fate in the competition.
“We haven’t reached our peak yet; hopefully, that will happen on Friday,” the RCB all-rounder Albie Morkel said here on Thursday. “There are seven games left and we have to win five games to qualify.”
For the team to conquer a rampant Punjab, it will require lifting of batting standards. Chris Gayle does not appear fully comfortable; Virat Kohli is yet to explode into life; and Yuvraj Singh, one of four players to train on match-eve, has been a disappointment.
Among the bowlers, Ashoke Dinda has consistently leaked more than eight runs an over; his place in the eleven must be in doubt. It has rained here in the lead-up and more showers are expected on match-day. But, Morkel seemed unconcerned, offering instead a different forecast. “A ‘Gaylestorm’ is round the corner,” he said.
“I’ve just got a feeling about that,” he added.
The tens of thousands who throng the stadium will hope he is right.