Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Durban April 30, 2009

Punjab look to keep the winning habit

Match facts

May 1, 2009
Start time 16.30pm (14.30GMT)

Big Picture

Kings XI Punjab are running hot. They have won their last three games and are favourites against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Punjab lost a few big names like Brett Lee and Shaun Marsh ahead of the tournament but have brilliantly gelled together as a team. Even relatively unknown names like Yusuf Abdulla, who was drafted in to cover for the injured Jerome Taylor, have stood up to be counted.

With spin increasingly proving to be effective on dry pitches, they will be relying heavily on Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar. Irfan Pathan has also hit a purple patch and VRV Singh turned in a frugal spell in the last game that he played. They have successfully defended two low scores in a row but will be hoping for a tall score if they bat first against Bangalore.

Bangalore have been struggling after a bright start but gave themselves some breathing space with the win against Kolkata in the last game. They will have a new captain - Jacques Kallis is the the frontrunner - and while the bowling hasn't been bad, the batting has let them down. Five first-ball dismissals and three second-ball dismissals - a rare occurrence in cricket - have meant the batting has never got going and they have been always trying to repair the faulty start. They went in with Shreevats Goswami as an opener in the last game and finally, found some momentum. Anil Kumble has been in top form and they have drafted in KP Appanna and Roelof van der Merwe to bolster the spin. Suffice to say, it won't be a walkover for Punjab.

Form guide

Punjab: Pathan and Abdulla have worked wonderfully so far and have been successful in knocking down early wickets. Irfan does the job with the new ball while they have tended to use Abdulla, who has a good yorker at the death.

Bangalore: Despite being out of action, Anil Kumble has been miserly as ever and the opposition batsmen have been trying to play out his quota of overs. van der Merwe had a good outing with the ball in the last game and though he is agricultural in his batting, he can turn in an innings that could make a difference.

Watch out for

Kumble v Yuvraj: Last time they faced, Yuvraj gave plenty of respect to Kumble, preferring to not to take any risks. Watch out for Kumble tempting Yuvraj with his googlies. Last time, the situation allowed Yuvraj to play out Kumble; tomorrow it might require him to take a few risks. The contest should be very interesting.

Team news

For Punjab, the management is considering bringing in Simon Katich for Ravi Bopara though Tom Moody added that Luke Pomersbach too is in contention. "Katich has been middling the ball really well but if we feel we need a bit of fire at the top, Luke can come in," Moody said.

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

The choice of captain will be the dominating issue for Bangalore with Jacques Kallis the frontrunner for the position.

Bangalore: (probable) 1 Sreevats Goswami, 2 Jacques Kallis (capt), 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Roelof van der Merwe, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 R Vinay Kumar, 10 Anil Kumble, 11 KP Appanna

Head-to-head record

Punjab won by seven wickets in the last match at Durban, but it was a tight game and gave them their first win of the tournament. It came down to the final overs where Yuvraj Singh and Ravi Bopara showed immense maturity to select the bowlers to be attacked and executing their plan to a T. In 2008, Punjab were one of the teams to beat in the league phase while Bangalore were dismal right through the tournament. Punjab posted easy wins both the times they came up against Bangalore last season.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo