Indian Premier League

A tie RCB cannot afford to lose

FUN AT WORK: Kings XI Punjab team members during a warm-up session at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar  

The last time Kings XI Punjab came here was for the final of the 2014 IPL. It was a game that ended in nerve-shredding defeat but it was a campaign that no one would call a failure: top spot after the league phase, where it was beaten only three times in 14; a deserved man-of-the-tournament award for Glenn Maxwell; and a combined total of 52 wickets among Sandeep Sharma, Axar Patel and Mitchell Johnson.

A year on, George Bailey’s troops return to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, lying at the bottom of the table and with their confidence in tatters. Maxwell has managed just 74 runs from six innings this season.

He was dropped from the team before being recalled for the previous fixture against Mumbai Indians, where he was out reverse-sweeping for 12.

Johnson was embarrassed by Parthiv Patel in Mohali, and has failed to live up to expectations this time. And the less said about the top order the better.

Four losses in a row

Kings XI Punjab has lost seven out of nine games — including the last four in a row — and needs to win the remaining five to even stand a chance of making the play-offs.

It will meet Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Wednesday, a team that appears to have turned a corner at the right time. RCB has won three of its last four completed matches, and wears some sign of stability despite the loss to Chennai Super Kings on Monday.

Mitchell Starc’s arrival has definitely helped: he has 11 wickets from six matches, with an economy rate of 5.83.

Starc, Yuzvendra Chahal, David Wiese, and Harshal Patel have formed the core of a somewhat successful bowling group.

In Chennai, RCB fielded Iqbal Abdulla in place of Varun Aaron, who has been rather profligate (10.21 an over).

It remains to be seen if the left-arm spinner, who made significant contributions in the away wins over Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, keeps his place.

RCB’s reworking of its batting order has also yielded results, although the team is aching for some consistency on that front. The pursuit of 148 against CSK was never going to be a cinch but it was not quite the Sisyphean task RCB made it seem.

Chris Gayle, who was rested against CSK after his back acted up, is expected to return to the side and the tournament still awaits a major knock from the Jamaican.

With the middle of the IPL table clogged like MG Road during rush hour here, RCB cannot afford to lose this tie either. Rain has again been forecast but both sides will pray it stays away.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 11:23:25 PM |

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