If there is one team opponents would not like to face at this moment in IPL 7, it is undoubtedly Kings XI Punjab. Preity Zinta’s franchise is red hot as of now and just seems to be getting better by the day. While Glenn Maxwell has been sensational for them, many others in the team are also slowly but surely coming to the party. Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, have had a mixed time, tasting a couple of impressive victories, but overall have lacked the consistency expected of former finalists.
Without an iota of doubt, Punjab would go into the game as firm favourites. They may have slipped in the match against Mumbai Indians, their only defeat so far in the event, but their batting performance against two-time champions Chennai Super Kings was sensational to say the least. Once again it was that man Glenn Maxwell, who made the big difference with yet another scintillating performance. The Aussie smash hitter registered his 4th score of close to a hundred, and though he fell short again, it was more than enough to see Punjab through to another win. Maxwell’s consistency, especially considering the amount of risks he takes, has been rather incredible.
The good news for Punjab from the impressive triumph against Chennai was that the others in the batting department also delivered key contributions. While Maxwell’s was the standout effort, Virender Sehwag kicked off things with a blazing cameo at the start, briefly rolling the clock back to his glory days. He should have ideally carried on to make a more significant contribution, but Punjab were lucky that David Miller and skipper George Bailey came to the party. Bailey’s knock, in particular, was sensational. Of course, it helped that there was no pressure on him, and all he had to do was throw the bat around.
Punjab’s bowling did take a bit of stick in the match against Chennai, but that was expected since MS Dhoni’s men were chasing such a huge score. Batsmen were bound to throw their bat around, and get some lucky runs as well. Sandeep Sharma continued to impress. In fact, his early strike of the in-form Dwayne Smith was instrumental in ensuring that Chennai did not get, what has been, their customary rollicking opening partnership in this edition. The other bowlers do need to tighten their game though.
If Bangalore want to overcome Punjab, they will need to really raise their game against the in-form side. Bangalore have a few wonderful stroke players of their own, but while AB de Villiers has won them a game with an exceptional innings, the rest haven’t measured up to the task. It’s about time Chris Gayle started converting those rollicking starts and skipper Virat Kohli made a significant contribution with the bat. A tough call also needs to be taken on Yuvraj Singh, who is proving to be a costly but for Bangalore. As for their bowling, they would be mighty relieved if they can stop another Maxwell storm.
--By A Cricket Analyst