Crunch time for sliding Punjab
Match factsFriday, May 6, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab have had contrasting runs in the lead-up to Friday's fixture, though both teams have had fewer games than most others and can be expected to spice up the race for the play-offs even more. Bangalore have won three on the trot, their batting coming good each time, whether they have been chasing or setting a target. Virat Kohli has been the backbone of those successes with the bat and with Chris Gayle in prime touch, things are looking up. A win should push them to the top four, though with five games still to play after Friday, there's still a long way to go.
Punjab, who've been beaten in their last three games, have struggled to contain the opposition with their bowling, while their middle order, including David Hussey and Abhishek Nayar, has underachieved. Punjab are already in a deep hole that they need to quickly climb out of, for a defeat, at a point when they are second from the bottom on the points table, could leave them needing too much out of their remaining six games to progress.
Form guide (most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: WWWLL (sixth in points table)
Kings XI Punjab: LLLWW (ninth in points table)
Bangalore have had a week-long break ahead of the game, a long-enough period to address any niggles if there have been any. They could field the same XI that beat Pune Warriors in their previous match, with Mohammad Kaif playing ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara.
David Miller, the big-hitting South Africa batsman is part of the Kings XI squad, and is an option instead of Hussey in the line-up. Piyush Chawla has been expensive with his legspin, and that too would be a worry.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Saurabh Tiwary's performance was one of the highlights for Mumbai Indians last season, where he formed a successful partnership with Ambati Rayudu, who continues to shine. With Bangalore, however, Tiwary is yet to hit it big on the field, though he was picked for US$1.6 million at the auctions. He's had starts, with scores of 14, 18, 14, 7, 16* and 26 so far, and is due a longer stint.
Adam Gilchrist needs to inspire his team at the top with a runaway knock, something he's promised in the middle this season but hasn't quite achieved. In Paul Valthaty, he has an able partner but the dominance has largely eluded him.
- Adam Gilchrist leads the sixes tally for the IPL overall, with 70. Yusuf Pathan is one behind him in the same number of games - 53.
- Gilchrist also has the record so far for the most wicketkeeping dismissals in the IPL, with 41 in 53 games. Second to him is Dinesh Karthik with 37.
The chatter"I wanted to bat up the order for the last three IPL seasons and this time I got the chance. I always wanted to be in the top order but I was batting at Nos. 5, 6 and 7."
Virat Kohli is enjoying his role at the top.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo