Punjab target another away upset
Match factsWednesday, May 2, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Royal Challengers Bangalore have had a slight blip after a hat-trick of victories, sharing points in a washout against Chennai Super Kings before getting walloped by Kolkata Knight Riders. The 47-run defeat was particularly galling for Royal Challengers, a team which prides itself on its world-class batting line-up, as they were out of the chase even before the halfway stage.
Royal Challengers' bowling has always been hot and cold, and they have relied on the heavyweight batsmen to win them matches. They had found Knight Riders' spinners hard to put away but a return to the Chinnaswamy Stadium, which regularly dishes out some of the flattest batting tracks in the country, should make Royal Challengers a more formidable opponent. With the top two teams moving away from the pack, Daniel Vettori's side needs a win to keep pace, and will hope the weather cooperates - Bangalore was lashed by rain on Tuesday evening, and was overcast on the morning of the game.
Kings XI Punjab, though, have already upset some of the stronger teams at their home grounds - they have beaten Chennai Super Kings in Chennai, Mumbai Indians in Mumbai and Knight Riders in Kolkata. Can they add Royal Challengers to that list?
Kings XI are currently second from bottom in the points table, but they could have their captain Adam Gilchrist back tomorrow, after he sat out the previous four matches with torn hamstrings. They could also have Ryan Harris, the Australia fast bowler who was an ever-present in their campaign last season, back in the squad after the West Indies Test series.
(completed games, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LNrWWW
Kings XI Punjab: WLWLL
Players to watchAfter a season in which he secured his spot in the Test team, was India's most consistent limited-overs batsman, and rose to the vice-captaincy, Virat Kohli has stuttered in the IPL. While the dazzling performances of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have largely covered up for his failures, Royal Challengers Bangalore will be expecting more than an average of 18.37 and a strike-rate of 102.08.
Since his visa issues were resolved, Azhar Mahmood has become Kings XI's preferred overseas allrounder, and he has been influential in almost every game he's played. He announced himself with a cameo of 33 off 14 deliveries against Royal Challengers, but his most telling performance was in the game against Chennai Super Kings, where he removed the set openers and kept his head in the death to snatch victory for Kings XI.
Stats and trivia
- Royal Challengers have won five of their last six matches against Kings XI, after losing their first three. At home, they have a 2-1 record, winning in 2010 and 2011, and losing in 2008.
- Shaun Marsh is the leading run-scorer in matches between these two teams, with 224 runs in six innings at an average of 56 and a strike rate of 133.33. Gayle has played three innings against Kings XI, with scores of 107 (49 balls), 0 (7) and 87 (56).
- Piyush Chawla has taken 14 wickets against Royal Challengers at an average of 15.92 and an economy rate of 6.75. Only three bowlers have taken more wickets against an opposition team in the IPL.
Quotes"We have bowled well for 16-17 overs and have had two-three very bad ones, and that has cost us games."
"The pleasing factor for me is that even if we've lost games, I've never seen the boys totally deflated saying 'no no, there's no way we can beat them'."
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.