The Punjab Kings will need to play off their skin to get their stuttering campaign back on track when they face a top-flight Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League in Ahmedabad on Friday.
With a five-wicket defeat at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders, it will not be an easy task for a struggling Punjab team to take on the challenge of an RCB team, which has pulled out all the stops.
After four losses and two wins, Punjab currently sit sixth in the standings with four points, while RCB are second with 10 points from five wins, behind Chennai Super Kings in terms of net run rate.
Aside from the lone loss to CSK, RCB has established itself as a strong contender for a debut IPL title, with many of their players in great shape as the tournament progresses.
The Punjab’s inconsistent stick has been a disappointment so far. In their six games, the team under KL Rahul managed to make the three lowest batting totals – 106, 120 and 123.
While Rahul, who has scored 91, 5, 61, 4, 60 steps and 19 so far, has been their most successful batsman this season. He will again be expected to provide his team with a strong start with the Willow.
Mayank Agrawal was guilty of spoiling his starts with less than one game while Chris Gayle had only two good scores in six outings.
Dynamic Nicholas Pooran is having a dismal season to say the least. The West Indian cloak and sword only managed 28 points in five innings, including three ducks. His high was 19 against KKR. The team could replace him with the best T20 batsman in the world, Englishman Dawid Malan.
With not enough points on the board against KKR, there was little that Punjab bowlers could do. But the bowling unit lacked aggressiveness. He couldn’t defend 195 against the Delhi Capitals and nearly conceded the game to the Rajasthan Royals while defending 221, scoring a four-point victory in the end.
On the other hand, RCB will have confidence in him after having the courage to beat the Delhi Capitals by one point. While it was Ab de Villiers who once again delivered the bat, the bowlers put together a collective effort to give RCB their fifth win of the season.
– Kings of Punjab (@PunjabKingsIPL) April 28, 2021
The RCB stick is very heavy and depends on the performances of Virat Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal, de Villiers and Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell. It bodes well for the team that all four players have performed well.
Rajat Patidar showed what he is capable of in the previous game while Kyle Jamieson can hit a few in sequence as well.
The RCB bowling department has been impressive, led by point guard Harshal Patel, Purple Cap holder and Mohammed Siraj. The latter did well to defend 14 of the final against DC, with the dangerous Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer in the middle.
Kings of Punjab: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel , Darshan Nalkande, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar.
Royal Challengers of Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (W), Devdutt Padikkal, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Shahbaz Ahmed, MS Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Dan Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, KS Bharat, Finn Allen.