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IPL 9: RCB and Kings XI Punjab battle for top four spot

RCB, Kings XI in must-win situation today to stay in contention for playoffs

Mohali: Desperate to get their campaigns back on track, two bottom placed teams in Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore lock horns today, aiming to keep their winning momentum going to stay afloat in IPL-9.

Kings XI Punjab players celebrate the wicket of a Delhi Daredevils batsman during the 2016 Indian Premier League match at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Saturday. Punjab won by nine runs. Pic/AFP
Kings XI Punjab players celebrate the wicket of a Delhi Daredevils batsman during the 2016 Indian Premier League match at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Saturday. Punjab won by nine runs. Pic/AFP

Both Kings XI and RCB have struggled and their hard-fought victories on Saturday came at a time when they badly needed wins to remain in the hunt. While RCB managed to snap their three losing streak with a seven-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiants, Kings XI defeated Delhi Daredevils by nine runs to register only their third win in the tournament out of nine games.

Kings XI is languishing at the bottom of the table with six points from nine games, while RCB are just ahead with same points from eight matches.

No margin for error
And from here on, both the teams cannot afford to slip a bit and would look for consistency to keep their campaigns alive.

For Kings XI it won't be easy as RCB's batting line up includes some of the destructive names of world cricket in skipper Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson. All eyes will be on RCB skipper Virat Kohli whose performance in the ongoing IPL has left oppositions dumbstruck. Kohli has emerged as man of the moment for RCB, whose third victory against Pune on Saturday, came largely due to the skipper's 58-ball unbeaten 108.

Chasing a formidable 192 for victory, a determined Kohli batted right till the end to amass his second century of the tournament and guide RCB to the much-needed win. Kohli is leading the top scorers list with 541 runs, which includes two tons and four half-centuries. It will an acid test for Kings XI bowling unit to contain Kohli & Co. The encounter will be a battle between Kings XI bowlers and RCB batsmen and whichever side manages to keep their composure will come out victorious.

Pedestrian bowling
RCB, with perhaps the most intimidating batting line-ups, has had to taste defeats because of a pedestrian bowling attack that has failed to defend 180 plus scores in most of the matches. RCB's two best performers with the ball have been Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal but the likes of Stuart Binny, newly-inducted Chris Jordan, Varun Aaron and Parvez Rasool, who all leaked runs, will have to put up much better performance to support the team's batting department.

Inconsistent Punjab
On the other hand, inconsistency has hurt Kings XI badly in the ongoing season. They have lost three while managing to win just two on their home turf. Kings XI, which looked to have gained some confidence from their 23-run win over Gujarat Lions earlier on May 1, were quick to fritter away the advantage in the subsequent match when they lost by seven runs to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Captains' wishlist
Murali Vijay Kings XI Punjab
> In-form Virat Kohli is dismissed cheaply
> Axar Patel provides an all-round show
> Pacer Mohit Sharma is among wickets

Virat Kohli Royal Challengers Bangalore
> Opener Lokesh Rahul continues his fine form
> AB de Villiers comes up with a big score
> RCB bowlers bowl tight line and length

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