Bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in match number 50 of the Indian Premier League season 8 at Mohali. Undoubtedly, Bangalore would go in as favourites having thrashed Mumbai Indians handsomely in their last encounter courtesy an AB de Villiers special. Punjab, on the other hand, faltered against Sunrisers Hyderabad in spite of a splendid counter-attack by David Miller. Punjab seem to have forgotten the formula to win. But, if they need inspiration, they need not look far as Delhi Daredevils have stunned Chennai Super Kings in their previous game.
Match: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, 50th T20 at Mohali
Time: Match Start at 8 PM IST | 14:30 GMT
Toss: Royal Challengers Bangalore, who chose to bowl first
The one area where Punjab could trouble Bangalore is in the batting department. They have succeeded chiefly due to the splendid batting efforts of the big three -- namely Chris Gayle, de Villiers and captain Virat Kohli. In the last match, de Villiers played an absolutely sensational knock, which overshadowed Kohli's innings which, itself was pretty good on a standalone basis. Then, there is Gayle, who got a smashing hundred earlier in the series, and with a little bit of luck, could have got two. In fact, with Gayle and de Villiers are two of only three centurions in IPL 8.
Bangalore have more balance in the bowling department, which has been led admirably by Mitchell Starc, who has been a completely different bowler since Shane Warne's soft remark. They would be pleased that Sreenath Aravind has also come good under the guidance of Starc. The all-rounder David Wiese has done a good job while their spin section has been handled adeptly by Yuzvendra Chahal, now an experienced campaigner in the IPL. A win today is important for Bangalore since it would lift them to number four in the points table ahead of Rajasthan Royals.
Punjab really have nothing left to play for apart from a bit of pride. Thus, they have made a sensible decision by releasing Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Johnson, who can go back and start preparing for the Ashes. The problem with Punjab this season has been that they haven't fired in any department, batting more than the bowling. If anything, it has been a one-man show, like David Miller the other day against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who singlehandedly took the side close. But, with little support from the rest, his brilliance was in vain.
What Punjab could perhaps do is try and infuse some fresh spirit in the team for the match against Bangalore. They could make wholesale changes to the team including dropping skipper George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and some of the others who have been playing in most of the matches. While that may worsen their chances of a win, who knows they might unearth some talent, who could shine in the next edition. For now, things are indeed looking down for Punjab.
--By A Cricket Analyst