Kings XI Punjab would be in the firing line when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 8 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 on Friday. That is because RCB's first game didn’t go according to plan at all as they suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens.
Punjab are placed 3rd on the points table at the moment and have won their first game of the season against Delhi Daredevils. They would be high on confidence after demolishing the Daredevils by 6 wickets.
RCB has some pretty big names. On paper, Bangalore looks like a title-contender team. With Virat Kohli, Ab de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock and Chris Woakes, RCB’s batting line-up is top class but their bowling, as usual, is not the strongest. RCB are also considered chokers, having lost three semi-finals and two finals.
Punjab's KL Rahul has set expectations with his 14-ball half-century in the opener; he will be keen to take advantage of the short boundaries at the venue, which the Karnataka star knows like the back of his palm. KXIP have been boosted by the arrival of Aaron Finch, who has joined up the team after his wedding. Karun Nair is the other in-form batsman in the KXIP line-up, and the team would do well to send him to bat at three. Then there’s Chris Gayle, who has over the years destroyed several bowling attacks at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and will be itching to get a chance; will KXIP be tempted to play him at his former home ground?
Match date: 13 April
Match time: 8 pm
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Kings XI have a 3-2 win-loss record while chasing and have a 1-2 record while defending. Hence, they are better suited to chase targets rather than defending them. The kind of big hitters that they have in their midst, bolstered by the inclusion of Finch and Gayle make them capable enough to hunt down any target.
Punjab’s bowling attack is a lot more versatile in comparison to RCB. While Mujeeb Ur Rahman and R Ashwin have a bag full of tricks in the spin department, the same can be said about fast bowlers Andrew Tye and Mohit Sharma, who also have different options in their arsenal and are reliable at any stage of the innings, particularly in the death.
However, in order to do that, their batsmen - who have been consistent but haven’t been able to finish off games on their own - need to step up. The perceived weakness of the RCB bowling lineup must also give Punjab the confidence to go all guns blazing.
Royal Challengers Bangalore probable XI: Quinton de Kock, Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Kulwant Khejrolia, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav
Kings XI Punjab probable XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman