This season in the Indian Premier League, the level of competitiveness has been extraordinary. As it stands now, even with only nine matches to go, barring Delhi Daredevils, every other team has the chance to progress to the playoffs. Naturally, both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab will look forward to get two points from this encounter.
Albeit Kings XI are currently at the third place in the league table, they will not want to concede a defeat in this game, for that might take them down to as low as the sixth position the next day. Royal Challengers, on the other hand, are in a more grave situation. One more defeat and they can soon find them out of contention for a playoff spot. Thus, a cracker of a match is what we can expect tomorrow!
At their new home Indore, Kings XI faced Kolkata Knight Riders a couple of days ago. There, Sunil Narine’s early onslaught (75 from 36), Dinesh Karthik’s slog-over hitting (50 from 23) and able support from other players took the visitors to a humongous total of 245. The chase was never too easy, but Lokesh Rahul (66 from 29) and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin (45 from 22) tried their best. Eventually, Punjab had to settle for an acceptable 31-run defeat.
Next day, it was a different outcome for Royal Challengers. They were set a target of 182 by Delhi Daredevils. During the second innings, Bangalore lost two early wickets within three overs, but then the two stars of the squad, Kohli and AB de Villiers, got hold of the situation. Eventually, they scored 70 and 72* to take Royal Challengers to victory, with one over to spare. AB was awarded the man of the match for eventually seeing it through.
Ashwin brought Aaron Finch back into the squad, and that switch paid off to some extent. The Australian scored 34 in the last game, and showed glimpses of what damage he can do to opponents. Chances are high Punjab will continue with the same combination. The only spot where a swap is possible is the spot of Barinder Sran. The former Sunrisers player could not impress much and he might be sacrificed in favour of Ankit Rajpoot, who started his IPL campaign this year with a magnificent fifer against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The away side, on the other hand, should bring Quinton de Kock back into the starting eleven. The South African went back home for personal reasons, but has now come back to rejoin the team. He will be picked ahead of Moeen Ali in the next game. And in the process, Parthiv Patel will have to sit out. Manan Vohra is the likely candidate to get a chance in that case. Otherwise, the team should be unchanged as in the last match.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (Wk), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Quinton de Kock (Wk), Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Pawan Negi, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj.
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