Home challenge for RCB, host KXIP
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), playing their penultimate home game, would be hoping the rain stays away on Wednesday when they take on cellar-dwellers Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tie here.
With nine points from as many games, RCB will drop to fifth spot after Tuesday’s game between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, both on eight, while Kings XI have just four from nine matches with two wins and seven defeats.
RCB have won just one out of four completed games here and their only win was in a rain-affected 10-overs-a-side match against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) last weekend. And rain may again play spoilsport as the Met Office has forecast four days of “thunderstorm/squall accompanied by hailstones”.
Also, following their crushing loss to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Chepauk on Monday, Virat Kohli’s RCB need to quickly regroup and ensure they do not drop any more points if they hope to finish in top-four and thus qualify for the play-offs.
After Wednesday’s game, the Royal Challengers will be visiting Mumbai, Mohali and Hyderabad over five days before hosting Daredevils in their last league match on May 17. Thus, every outing will be critical to RCB’s play-off chances.
Meanwhile, last year’s runners-up Kings XI Punjab are in the midst of a tailspin following five consecutive losses. The Mohali outfit’s fall has been quite dramatic and as spectacular as Glen Maxwell’s batting was last season when the Aussie smashed 528 runs at a strike rate of 187.75, as compared to just 74 (SR 134.54) in six games this year and barely able to hold his position in the playing eleven.
In fact, Kings XI’s tepid performance this season is about the failure of not just Maxwell, but also of their other key batsmen like opener Virender Sehwag, who last year was among the top run-getters with a tally of 455, including a knock of 122. Also contributing to the sorry state of George Bailey’s team has been the bowling that has appeared toothless with spearhead Mitchell Johnson nowhere near his best. The Aussie quick has taken nine wickets in eight matches, but with an economy rate of 9.20. Wednesday’s game is the first of three away matches for Kings XI, who then conclude their league campaign hosting RCB and CSK. Though, their hopes of a play-off berth appear non-existent, they have the potential to trip the best of IPL teams, and RCB would do well to bear this in