Mohali: With eyes firmly set on a play-off berth, Royals Challengers Bangalore will start as overwhelming favourites against bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League cricket match here tomorrow.
RCB would settle for nothing less than a win tomorrow which will not only enable them get past fourth-place Rajasthan Royals but also give a boost to their chances of progressing to the play-off stage. RCB is presently lying at the fifth spot with 13 points from 11 games, while Kings XI are out of play-off reckoning with just four points 12 matches.
Having thrashed Kings XI by a huge 138-run margin in their previous meeting in Bangalore, RCB would definitelyfancy their chances against the struggling hosts. A star-studded RCB have strong a batting line up in the form of dangerous Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and skipper Virat Kohli.
Royal Challengers Bangalore. Pic/ PTI
RCB has two batsmen in top five highest run getters list in De Villiers (436 runs) and Kohli (417). Gayle too is not far behind and is seventh in the chart, amassing 370 runs. In fact, besides Chennai Super Kings' Brendon McCullum Gayle and De Villiers are the only other two batsmen to have struck centuries in the ongoing edition of the tournament.
While Gayle smashed 117 off just 57 balls against Kings XI in their previous meeting, De Villiers clobbered Mumbai Indians bowlers to all parts of the ground to score an unbeaten 133 off just 59 balls in RCB's 39-run win on Sunday. And going by the form of RCB's batsmen, things look ominous for Kings XI tomorrow.
On the bowling front, Australian Mitchell Starc is leading the RCB attack brilliantly. He is the fourth highest wicket-taker so far with 16 scalps from just eight games. Besides, the likes of Sreenath Aravind, David Wiese and Harshal Patel has also performed well in the pace department under Starc's leadership. RCB's lone warrior in the spin department is Yuzvendra Chahal and he too has lived upto his skipper's expectations, picking up 15 wickets from 10 games so far in the tournament.
For last year's runners-up Kings XI, the IPL 8 has been a big disappointment. The George Bailey-led side managed just two wins out of 12 games, the last of which came last month against Rajasthan Royals. Since then they have suffered seven straight defeats to crash out of the play-off race.
But from here on, Kings XI have nothing to lose and they would be hoping to play the role of a party-spoiler for RCB tomorrow. The Punjab side has not been able to play to its full potential despite having some big names. With just two matches left in the tournament, Kings XI would like to salvage some pride by registering wins in their remaining encounters.
In Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and skipper Bailey, Punjab too has a formidable batting line-up but they never fired in unison and that failed the side.
Come tomorrow, Kings XI would also be without the services of Australian imports Johnson and Marsh, who have been relieved for national duty against West Indies.