IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab face stiff test from Royal Challengers Bangalore

XI Punjab (KXIP) will aim to push towards the play-offs with a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter in Indore on Monday
Kings XI Punjab take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2018 encounter in Indore on Monday.(AFP)
Kings XI Punjab take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2018 encounter in Indore on Monday.(AFP)
Updated on May 13, 2018 08:15 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Indore | By Sidharth Gulati

After suffering back-to-back defeats against Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab will look to hit form when they face Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 at the Holkar Stadium here on Monday.

Kings XI, who have lost four of their last five games, have 12 points and need to win two of their remaining three encounters to qualify for the playoffs. This is a must-win game for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers as a loss will end their hopes of sealing a last-four spot. They have eight points from 11 matches with three more to go.

Reliance on star power hurting KXIP, RCB

While KL Rahul (537 runs) and Chris Gayle (332) have done the bulk of scoring for KXIP, the 2014 IPL finalists, Kohli (466) and AB de Villiers (358) have been instrumental in RCB’s four wins this season.

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Except for these four, batsmen from both sides haven’t performed. For KXIP, Karun Nair (246) has a half-century to his name but Mayank Agarwal (118), Aaron Finch (58) and Axar Patel (47) haven’t got into the groove despite getting several chances. Yuvraj Singh’s (64) season seems all over while Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis (96 runs and two wickets) has been under-utilised.

Mandeep Singh (245), who has been associated with RCB since 2015, is yet to a score half-century this year. South Africa’s Quinton de Kock (201) and Brendon McCullum (127) have also found the going tough.

Even in their last match against Delhi Daredevils, it was the 118-run stand between Kohli and AB de Villiers that helped RCB chase the 182-run target with an over to spare.

READ | Test cricket will not stand test of time with T20’s emergence: Brendon McCullum

With the tournament reaching its business end, KXIP and RCB will hope for contributions from all batsmen.

Tye, Mujeeb lack support

For KXIP, Andrew Tye has been exceptional with 20 wickets in 11 games while Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman has 14 scalps, but they haven’t been backed by the other bowlers. Skipper R Ashwin has six wickets from 11 games at an economy rate of 8.13 while Axar Patel (three), Barinder Sran (four) and Mohit Sharma (six) have failed to provide breakthroughs at crucial intervals.

For RCB, Umesh Yadav (14), Yuzvendra Chahal (10) and Tim Southee have done well mostly but have lacked support.

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