Challenges look to bounce back to top four with a win over Kings XI

Punjab face uphill task against RCB's batting might

Challenges look to bounce back to top four with a win over Kings XI

Often, it doesn’t matter how you had started a journey but where you find yourself at the end.

For Royal Challengers Bangalore, the beginning to this edition of the Indian Premier League was far from ideal. They struggled to get the batting combinations right and their bowling lacked teeth. A commendable upsurge by the middle of the season, though, has shot them among the contenders for the qualification phase.

With IPL 8 now hitting its business end, the RCB only faces a stiffer test from the other teams. Against Kings XI Punjab, a side only playing for pride, losing is just not an option for Virat Kohli’s boys at the PCA stadium on Wednesday.

Currently at fifth place, with 13 points from 11 matches, RCB is among the six teams eyeing the top four berths. With Sunrisers Hyderabad catapulting to third place after beating Kings XI by five runs, RCB surely have their task cut out. They had beaten Kings XI already with an imposing margin of 138 runs and go into the contest as unquestioned favourites.

Things are beginning to fall in place for the Bangalore side. The return of left-arm pacer Mitchell Star shored up the listless bowling. With 16 wickets in this edition, Starc is number four on the list of bowlers. More so, he has found able allies in David Wiese and Harshal Patel and lately in another left-arm seamer Sreenath Arvind. With young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal bringing in the variety, the RCB attack has been effortlessly surprising its opponents.

The shuffle in the batting order sorted their biggest woe of run gathering. With their three best batsmen - Chris Gayle, Kohli and AB De Villiers - occupying the top three slots, the effect is not only been intimidating for the opponents but has turned rewarding for the RCB. Importantly, it has allowed Gayle to play freely, the Jamaican returning to his explosive best with 117 off just 57 balls, incidentally against Kings XI.

De Villiers, who had confessed about his desire to play up the order, justified the captain’s faith when he trampled upon the Mumbai Indians’ bowlers with a 59-ball unbeaten 133. In fact, the South African captain has rustled up impressive scores of 47 n.o., 57, 2, 21, 47 n.o., and 133 n.o., ever since he has been promoted to No. 3.
Along with captain Kohli, who has mastered his troops with skill and aggression, the presence of this troika has lent assurance to the middle order and a settled look to the side.

In contrast, Kings XI have churned up persistent below-par results to be out of the reckoning. Despite a bevy of stars at their disposal, their batsmen, including captain George Bailey, have put up brittle display. With Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Marsh back home due to national commitments, they need to make the best of what they got for their home fans. RCB, though, won’t spare any effort in piling more misery to their already disastrous season.

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