Dubai, Sep 23 (IANS/GloFans) Ahead of their Thursday’s clash, if Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) looked for motivation from their head-to-head IPL record, they would have been a bit disappointed as little separated the two teams; both have won 12 matches each since the IPL began in 2008.
After enduring umpiring errors, followed by a Super Over heartbreak, in their campaign opener against Delhi Capitals (DC), the KL Rahul-led KXIP would look open their account against Virat Kohli’s RCB at the Dubai International Cricket stadium here on Thursday.
Against DC, Punjab rode on MayankAgarwal’s blistering 60-ball 89 to approach the 158-run target. While the other Punjab players failed to leave an impact, and the team suffering hiccups at regular intervals, it was Mayank who single-handedly propelled Punjab and very nearly sealed a win.
However, just when KXIP was on the brink of a win, needing just one off three deliveries, they ended up losing two wickets, and eventually the contest slipped into the Super Over. Later, in the Super Over, Kagiso Rabada ensured the night belonged to DC.
On Thursday, KXIP will aim to revisit their over dependence on the opening combo of Rahul and Agarwal, and expect the middle order, comprising Karun Nair, Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran, to fire.
While the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle was not included in the playing XI against DC, the KXIP team management might bring him in a move to bolster the middle order by pushing the in-form Agarwal to No.3.
In bowling department, in-form pacer Mohammed Shami will once again try to replicate his previous performance where he had returned with impressive figures of 3/15.
West Indian pacer Sheldon Cottrell is expected to share the workload with Shami. Rookie leggie Ravi Bishnoi, who had a decent maiden outing against DC, is once again likely to feature in the XI as the team management would surely not want to make too many changes in the initial stage of the league.
In the other camp, Kohli’s RCB will be high on confidence after kicking-off their campaign with a 10-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).
However, RCB has their own problems to overcome, especially in the pace department. Lethal South African pacer Dale Steyn did manage a wicket. However, the 37-year-old was nowhere close to his best. UmeshYadav also disappointed after leaking 48 runs from four overs and remaining wicketless.
Navdeep Saini and Shivam Dube were on target, picking up two wickets each, but it was leg-spinner YuzvendraChahal who took full advantage of the prevailing conditions and emerged as the ‘game-changer’ with three scalps.
RCB, who are yet to lay their hands on the coveted trophy in 12 attempts, will hope for a repeat of another spectacular opening from Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch. It was young Devdutt who smoked 56 off 42 deliveries to set the tone against SRH. With the likes of Kohli and South African superstar AB de Villiers in the middle order, another mouth-watering contest is on cards.
KXIP: KL Rahul (captain/wicket-keeper), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Krishnappa Gowtham, Chris Jordan, Sheldon Cottrell, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Murugan Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, Deepak Hooda, Harpreet Brar, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Darshan Nalkande, James Neesham, IshanPorel, Simran Singh, Jagadeesha Suchith, Tajinder Singh
RCB: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Josh Philippe, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav, Dale Steyn, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Pavan Deshpande, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mohammed Siraj, Chris Morris, Pawan Negi, Parthiv Patel (wicket-keeper), Shahbaz Ahmed, Isuru Udana, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson