First it took a record breaking stand between AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli for Royal Challengers Bangalore to demolish a formidable Gujarat Lions. Then the woefully out of form Chris Gayle showed signs of a strong return with a breezy 49 in their commanding win against Kolkata Knight Riders. The Challengers, in their pursuit of a play-off berth, have done well to stay in the hunt but the job for them is just not done yet.
With 12 points from as many games, the Challengers need to win their remaining two games to stay alive in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League and Kohli's boys will be eyeing another convincing victory when they take on Kings XI Punjab here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday.
Kohli has been the fulcrum around which the team has built its momentum and the Challengers would be praying that the hand injury he suffered on Monday night against the Knight Riders won’t affect his dashing form.
The weather also stands as a possible threat to RCB's plans. Rain has been predicted in the city and the Challengers would be hoping for the weather to be kind on them come Wednesday as a washout will dash their dreams.
RCB's net run-rate of +0.640 is better than the third-placed Mumbai Indians (-0.082) and the fourth-placed Gujarat Lions (-0.747) and the Bengaluru outfit, currently placed fifth, will be aiming to make their way into the top four.
RCB's batting, which has been their strength throughout the season, looked a lot more solid at the top in their previous game against the Knight Riders, thanks to Gayle's short yet important knock. Gayle's failure in the past often gave RCB troubled starts, forcing them to experiment with their opening pair. With RCB in desperate need of a victory, the stage is nicely set for Gayle to take the confidence from Monday's game and deliver big for his team in the crucial encounter.
The excellent run of Kohli and De Villiers will be a worry for Punjab and skipper Murali Vijay would need a special effort from his bowlers to stop the dangerous duo.
On the bowling front, Chris Jordan's performance against Kolkata was a positive sign for the Challengers and the hosts would need the English medium pacer to remain economical in the death overs.
Placed last with eight points, Punjab are out of the race but with just pride to play for, the visitors will be hoping to produce fearless cricket and spoil RCB's party.
Punjab's miserable season received another jolt when attacking batsman Glenn Maxwell was ruled out of the tournament due to a side strain. Maxwell's ability to clear the boundary with ease could have been a threat for RCB and the hosts will now look to cash in on the Australian's absence. Punjab will also miss the services of all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who returned home owing to personal reasons.
Hashim Amla and Vijay will lead the batting charge for Punjab while Sandeep Sharma will be the key in the bowling department. Amla is coming on the back of a classy 96 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and the South African batsman will look to get his team off to a fine start.