Bangalore Royal Challengers v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Durban April 23, 2009

Strugglers search for top gear

  shares

Match facts

April 24, 2009 Start time 16.30pm (14.30GMT)

Big Picture

It hasn't been the start both teams would have hoped for, already having lost two matches each. Bangalore Royal Challengers' biggest problem has been their top-order batting: they have lost a wicket in the first over in every match, and end-of-Powerplay scores of 29 for 3, 46 for 2, and 31 for 2 aren't the best of platforms.

They now come up against a team which has one of the weaker bowling attacks around, a Kings XI Punjab outfit that is struggling to cope with the loss of Brett Lee, Sreesanth and Jerome Taylor. Another key performer they are missing is Shaun Marsh, who invariably provided them a cracking start last season.

While rain has dogged much of the tournament, no team has suffered as much as Punjab, both of whose games have been curtailed before even the tactical time-out was reached. They'll be hoping for a full match, and one that will finally get them off the mark.

Form guide

Yuvraj Singh remains the pivotal performer for Punjab, especially in the absence of the hard-hitting Australian pair of Marsh and James Hopes. They have other batsmen who can score quickly, but none have the explosive capability that Yuvraj possesses. Fast bowler Yusuf Abdulla was drafted in for his knowledge of South African conditions, but hasn't done much of note yet and needs to step up.

Bangalore's bowlers have looked clueless when Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist went on the rampage against them, and their batting has misfired in all three games so far. The fielding in the game against Deccan Chargers also didn't match the sharpness of the opposition's. They need their big guns, particularly the foreign ones, to raise their games if they are to improve on their showings.

Watch out for

Dale Steyn v Yuvraj Singh: Steyn has been quick, but hasn't made the sort of impact expected from a team's pace spearhead. His side will be looking to him to rein in Yuvraj, who can cause as much damage as the veteran Australians who sunk Bangalore in their two previous matches.

Team news

With Rahul Dravid having had to prop up the batting so far, Bangalore will be tempted to include the power hitting of Mark Boucher or Cameron White in their side. Rajesh Bishnoi hasn't done much with his limited opportunities, and his place could come under scrutiny.

Bangalore: (probable) 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Praveen Kumar, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Kevin Pietersen (capt), 5 Rahul Dravid, 6 Virat Kohli, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Karan Sharma, 9 Vinay Kumar, 10 Anil Kumble, 11 Dale Steyn

Despite two losses, Punjab aren't likely to tinker with their four overseas players, mainly because of a lack of quality options. The bowlers haven't had too much of a chance to show what they are capable of, so they could retain their places.

Punjab: (probable) 1 Karan Goel, 2 Ravi Bopara, 3 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Taruwar Kohli, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Vikramjeet Malik, 10 VRV Singh, 11 Yusuf Abdulla

Head-to-head record

Punjab were one of the teams to beat in the league phase last season while Bangalore were dismal right through the tournament. Punjab posted easy wins both the times they came up against Bangalore in 2008.

Quotes

"We were in the same position last year, so hopefully we can go and pick things up."
Yuvraj Singh looks to history for inspiration

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo