(IPLT20) Table-toppers Kings XI Punjab go up against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 31 of Pepsi IPL 2014 today.
In their most recent outing, RCB suffered a 19-run defeat at the hands of the Mumbai Indians. In a fiercely contested match, RCB’s bowlers came in for plenty of punishment. And while RCB got off to a flying start with the bat, a collapse in the middle overs resulted in the team falling 20 runs short.
Kings XI Punjab, undefeated in the UAE leg of Pepsi IPL 2014, tasted their first defeat of the season when they lost their first outing in India – to the Mumbai Indians. However, the team bounced back spectacularly and almost immediately when they defeated the formidable Chennai Super Kings in their most recent match. The resounding 44-run win propelled them back to the top spot in the points table.
The RCB bowlers have – barring the previous match against the Mumbai Indians – performed above expectations. The outstanding show from their bowlers has masked the under-performance from the batsmen and it is about time the senior batters in the team put their hands up and be counted. Chris Gayle – who was exceptional for RCB in 2011, 2012 and 2013 – has played cameos in his three outings and the team will desperately hope he can convert those flashes into big scores. It is very unlike Virat Kohli to not be among the runs and hence he will be expected to get a big one under his belt too.
For most part of this season, Kings XI Punjab have been a one-man army – at least on the batting front. Glenn Maxwell has become somewhat of a nightmare for KXIP’s opponents. The Australian is so high on confidence and backs himself to such an extent that he middles even the unorthodox strokes. Virender Sehwag, David Miller and George Bailey too have been in good form recently, but Maxwell has been so far ahead of the rest that their performances have generally gone unnoticed.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Mumbai Indians: RCB will be concerned with the runs leaked by the bowlers in the death overs. MI added 68 runs in the final four overs of their innings and many of those from the fuller length deliveries. The team management will also be worried that a match, which was set up brilliantly by the top three, could not be sealed. RCB were 117 for three in 12.4 overs and needed 71 more at a run-rate of 9.26. Yet they finished 20 runs short.
Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings: It was a perfect match for KXIP and one expects there will be not a single item marked in red in the coach’s diary. The batsmen scored the runs at a breathtaking pace, the bowlers were disciplined and the intensity in the field was high despite having a mountain of runs to defend. Lack of application by Mandeep Singh at the top of the order – when Virender Sehwag was going great guns at the other end – will perhaps call for a word or two from the coach, as will Murali Kartik’s form.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore will have an opportunity to improve on their poor record against the Kings XI Punjab. In 13 matches against KXIP, RCB have managed only five wins.
In recent times, KXIP have dominated RCB; they have beaten their southern opponents every single time in their last four meetings.