Off-colour Challengers face on-song Punjab

Off-colour Challengers face on-song Punjab

Off-colour Challengers face on-song Punjab

Left in disarray after consecutive losses, Royal Challengers Bangalore face the arduous task of taming the yet-to-be-beaten table-toppers Kings XI Punjab when the two sides clash in an IPL match here on Monday.

The contrast in their fortunes could not have been deeper going into the match given that Punjab are yet to taste defeat this IPL while Bangalore have lost two matches on the trot.

RCB, sans West Indian marauder Chris Gayle who is nursing a sore back, were completely outplayed in their most recent match against Rajasthan Royals.

Their star-studded batting line-up collapsed to the third lowest IPL total ever before Rajasthan made short work of the paltry 71-run target in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Except for skipper Virat Kohli, none of the RCB batsmen could make any noteworthy contribution last night. Yuvraj Singh has been getting decent knocks but the pace of his scoring remains a concern.

Crushing loss

Saturday’s loss was a crushing one and Kohli wants to forget it as quickly as possible but it would be quite a task for his team to turn it around against Punjab, by far the most consistent team of the season.

Barring last night’s game against Kolkata Knight Riders, which was won by their bowlers, Punjab’s batsmen, especially Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, have been in murderous form.

It would require a very special effort to stop them, something that KKR’s spin combo of mystery spinner Sunil Narine and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla managed to do on Saturday night before KXIP produced some magic of their own with the ball through the pace pair of Sandeep Sharma and Australian Mitchell Johnson.

A big positive for KXIP is senior opener Virender Sehwag’s return to some form. The veteran, who has fallen out of national reckoning, is slowly getting back into the groove with some decent contributions in the past couple of matches.

He was not very brisk, but showed signs of getting back to his old self,w hiletaking on a Kolkata Knight Riders quality attack. 

But Cheteshwar Pujara is still finding his feet in the format even though his individual form has not yet hurt the team too much, courtesy the good run by Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the middle order.

It would be a massive boost for Bangalore if Gayle makes it back to the squad after recovering from his back problem, but his availability is still not confirmed.Gayle has been laid low by a sore back thus far.

Also, more would be expected from South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers, who is yet to produce an eye-catching performance so far in the tournament.