Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to build on their two emphatic consecutive victories as they continue their push for an Indian Premier League (IPL) play-off berth in a match against laggards Kings XI Punjab in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Placed at the fifth spot with six wins from 12 matches, the Bangalore franchise has gained momentum at the right time with two massive victories in their previous two outings against Gujarat Lions (by 144 runs) and Kolkata Knight Riders (by nine wickets).
On the other hand, languishing at the penultimate spot, Punjab received another massive jolt on Tuesday when in-form Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell was ruled out with a side strain.
Going into Wednesday’s encounter at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here, RCB will be aiming to go all guns blazing to seal their berth in the play-offs. The team will once again bank on another solid batting effort from the marauding trio of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.
Kohli, who sustained a split webbing in his left hand while going for a diving catch against KKR, is the top run-getter with three centuries so far in the tournament coupled with as many half centuries.
South African star de Villers has been equally impressive and has been the backbone of RCB’s batting while Gayle found his touch with a 31-ball 49 back in the previous game.
Lokesh Rahul, who opened the batting in Gayle’s absence has also been among the runs while veteran Aussie Shane Watson and Sachin Baby have contributed in the limited opportunities they got.
Bangalore’s weak link is their bowling, which has time and again fallen apart in crunch situation. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Watson have been the most impressive for the franchise with 12 and 14 wickets in the tournament so far.
All-rounder Stuart Binny has been far from impressive with the new ball while England’s Chris Jordan has bowled decently in bits and pieces.
On the flip side, a depleted Punjab will be aiming to finish another IPL edition on a high. Left with nothing to lose and just four wins from 12, the side could turn out to be party spoilers for RCB.
The team’s batting will depend on skipper Murali Vijay and Protea Hashim Amla, who hit a brilliant 96 in the previous match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
With Maxwell out of the tournament, David Miller, stumper Wriddhiman Saha, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis are expected to bolster the middle order.
The bowing will centre around seamers Sandeep Sharma (13 wickets) and Mohit Sharma (12 wickets). Left-arm spinner Axar Patel with 11 wickets, including a hat-trick, has not been bad either but somehow failed to click as a team.
Leg-spinner K.C. Cariappa has also been impressive and the team will wish him to come successful against the right-handed duo of Kohli and de Villiers.