Challengers look to scalp Kings XI

Challengers look to scalp Kings XI

TWIN TROUBLE A lot will once again depend on AB de Villiers (left) and skipper Virat Kohli as they take on Kings XI Punjab on Monday. PTI

Indore: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are making every effort to get their second wind in Indian Premier League. The successful chase against Delhi Daredevils has invigorated them ahead of their crucial away encounter against Kings XI Punjab at the Holkar stadium on Monday.

Both teams are packed with power hitters and if the pitch here stays true, one can expect another run fest. RCB should be ready for that, especially after their batting performance on Saturday. Their trusted pair of captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers had gunned down a competitive total of 182 to eliminate Delhi Daredevils, and kept their faint hopes going.

In fact, the five-wicket victory was their fourth from 11 matches and the first in four away games. While it is imperative for RCB to win all their remaining matches, their chances also hinge on the performances of other teams in the fray. While Kolkata Knight Riders levelled points (12) with Kings XI following their explosive batting performance here on Saturday, the late resurgence of Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals has only raised the stakes at the business end of the league.

In such a scenario, the batting prowess of RCB cannot remain limited to the paper. Kohli and De Villiers form the nucleus of their batting. If the two don’t dig in their heels, the rest of RCB batting invariably appears flaky. For instance, it was the 118-run partnership forged by the two stalwarts which got the RCB run chase rolling against Daredevils. But once Kohli got out, both Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan failed to stick around. It came down to the calming presence of De Villiers to carry RCB over the finish line. RCB cannot afford such luxury in their coming matches.

While spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Moeen Ali impressed, the contest on Saturday once again demonstrated RCB’s struggles in death bowling. The last 5.5 overs leaked 65 runs. Against the in-form Kings XI batsmen, RCB attack has to come up with better execution of its strategies. The fact Holkar stadium has smaller boundaries will only add to the challenge.

The contest here on Saturday saw the teams posting a combined total of 459 runs. The defeat has hurt Kings XI, who after a surge of brilliance in the first half of the tournament, have fallen to inconsistency. They now need to win at least two of their remaining matches to ensure a smooth qualification to the play-offs. While KL Rahul has been a revelation this season, Chris Gayle will be eager to prove a point against his previous franchise. The middle-order, though, has looked a bit unsettled for the Punjab side. Whether the franchise chooses to continue with a struggling Mayank Agarwal is to be seen. Andrew Tye has been the pick of their bowlers with captain R Ashwin and Afghan spinner Mujib Ur Rahman expected to bind RCB in a web of spin.

With a galaxy of stars set to fight for a crucial win, cricket has to be the winner on Monday night.