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by Mayukh Bhattacharya & IPL Media Sunday 13 May 2018
As their middle order woes continue to bother them, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will be in desperate need of a victory to make things easier for them as the race for the playoffs gets tougher. They have squandered a good start to their tournament by dropping points in crucial matches and their bowlers took an absolute thrashing in their last game.
Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Date: May 14, 2018
Time: 20:00 hours IST
Venue: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
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With three games to go for each side there is no doubt about the fact that KXIP have more of a realistic chance of making it to the playoffs. A victory only gives the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) hope but they would also need other results going in their favor.
Of late, Virat Kohli’s team have looked better than they did in the first half of the tournament and with their bowlers in good form, they will know that that they stand a good chance should they get the KXIP openers out early. Apart from KL Rahul none of their batsmen have been on song of late including the mighty Chris Gayle. The fact that they got to 219 in their last game, chasing 245, was largely due to contributions from Ravichandran Ashwin and the lower order.
Having not been shy of trying new things out, KXIP might just gamble and give Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair a shot at the top of the order, just to see if they can find some form. While it could backfire, and unsettle Rahul and Gayle, it could be worth a risk going into the qualifiers.
RCB showed once again as to how good a team they can be if Kohli and AB de Villiers stand up for them. Their bowlers coming into form has only helped their cause and has probably given them an idea about the players and roles for next season. Their decision to bat Moeen Ali at the top may not have paid off but with slim chances of qualifying, they might just give him a couple of more opportunities. They will also be hoping that someone like a Sarfaraz Khan learns from his mistakes and provides them with a handy contribution lower down the order.
Mujeeb ur Rahman suffered a nasty blow to his right hand in the last game, but did come back to bowl a couple of more overs. Both he and Ashwin will be hoping that de Villiers doesn’t get the better of them given the flat Indore wicket. Another run fest is expected to be on the cards and RCB would be looking to make it two out of two as they look to finish on a high.
In what is a crucial game for them, KXIP might be tempted to bring back Yuvraj Singh for Mayank Agarwal. Ankit Rajpoot should come in for Barinder Sran. In case Mujeeb does not play the game, KXIP could consider bringing in Pardeep Sahu for Sran and replace Mujeeb with Ben Dwarshius.
Kings XI Punjab – KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal/Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot/Barinder Sran
RCB might be tempted to give Navdeep Saini a game in place of Mohammed Siraj.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Moeen Ali, Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj/Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal
* Sarfaraz Khan was one of the players retained by RCB ahead of this year’s auction. He has barely done justice to the faith show in him by the franchise, having managed scores of 6, 0, 5 and 11 in the four outings that he has had with the bat
* KL Rahul became the second player to register the 500 runs in this season, following Rishabh Pant. This is the first IPL season where the first two players to complete 500 runs are Indians
* The last game against Delhi was the first time in two seasons that Kohli and de Villiers shared a century partnership. They had five such stands in the 2016 season
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