After three harried weeks on the road, Royal Challengers Bangalore will welcome a return to the soothing environs of home, and the old ways.
In the aftermath of Chris Gayle’s world record and the ensuing win over Pune Warriors India here, RCB had left the city in top spot on the IPL table, seemingly without a care in the world.
Virat Kohli’s men come back, six games and four defeats later, relying on other results and needing to win the last two matches to stand a chance of the playoffs.
The first of those brings Kings XI Punjab to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday, the visitor holding no realistic possibility of progressing.
But, that far from precludes the possibility of damage.
Fresh in the host’s memory will be the reverse fixture, and David Miller’s extraordinary innings. That century denied RCB an otherwise certain win, and promised to turn Punjab’s fortunes around. It didn’t, though.
Adam Gilchrist’s lot have struggled since, losing to Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad heavily.
Punjab has been grappling with familiar issues. Beyond Miller, its batsmen have been decidedly unreliable.
The return of Shaun Marsh, who has two fifties from his five appearances, has brought some relief, but it is not enough.
One encouraging matter, however, will be the 19-year-old Sandeep Sharma’s debut (three for 21) in the last game.
This strengthened seam-bowling arsenal, Punjab will believe, can shackle RCB which, on a sluggish surface in Ranchi on Sunday, could only muster 115 — its worst first-innings effort in the IPL after the 105 at Centurion four years ago.
On a good, familiar pitch this time, Chris Gayle and company will seek to hurt Punjab’s bowlers in the same fashion of the Mohali game.
RCB brought Syed Mohammed in for R.P. Singh at Delhi, before replacing the former with Abhimanyu Mithun.
The Karnataka fast bowler, though, proved disappointingly expensive against Kolkata Knight Riders.
It is a definite worry for Kohli and could force a recall for R.P. Singh.
RCB will be relieved to be back in (relatively) cool, gloomy Bangalore after its troubles up north.
Its perfect home record must stay that way if it is to advance.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), A B de Villiers, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori, Harshal Patel, Jaidev Unadkat, K P Appanna, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Moises Henriques, Murali Kartik, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, R Vinay Kumar, Ravi Rampaul, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Aravind, Sandeep Warrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson, Sunny Sohal, Syed Mohammad, Tilakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Zaheer Khan.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (c), Mandeep Singh, Luke Pomersbach, David Miller, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh, Bhargav Bhatt, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bipul Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Aniket Choudhary, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascernhas, Nitin Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Rajagopal Sathish, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty.