Kings XI look to ambush RCB's late playoff charge

Hogg: Kings XI are chopping and changing too much (5:26)

Ajit Agarkar wants Kings XI to play an extra batsman instead of Mohit Sharma, while Brad Hogg reckons RCB will be unchanged (5:26)

Big Picture

On a day when assembly elections in Karnataka dominated Twitter trends, the IPL team from the state (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and a local boy (KL Rahul) took over the headlines for the better part of the evening.

Rahul accomplished this with his third straight fifty during Kings XI Punjab's loss in Indore; RCB earned it through a Virat Kohli-AB de Villiers masterclass.

It's been the story of the season for both teams; if Kings XI have been over-reliant on Rahul and Chris Gayle, the same is true of RCB, Kohli and de Villiers. On the ground where 459 runs were plundered in 40 overs on Saturday, the two teams' fortunes might depend on how the rest of their line-ups fare.

Both teams will also be wary of their death-bowling issues on a ground with a notably flat pitch and short boundaries. RCB are the most expensive death-overs team this season, while Kings XI leaked 76 runs in the last five overs during their loss to Kolkata Knight Riders. As their seam mainstay and purple-cap holder Andrew Tye said, "You have to just hope on this wicket."

Previous meeting

A little over a month ago, a red-hot Umesh Yadav neutralised a blazing start from KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Umesh's season-best figures of 3 for 23 helped bowl out Kings XI for 155. Built on a 54-run stand between Quinton de Kock and de Villiers, RCB's maiden win of the season coincided with Kings XI's first loss, and ended a five-match losing streak at the M Chinnaswamy going back to last season.

Likely XIs

Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul (wk), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Karun Nair, 4 Mayank Agarwal/ Akshdeep Nath, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Aaron Finch, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin (capt), 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk)/Manan Vohra, 2 Quinton de Kock, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Sarfaraz Khan, 7 Colin de Grandhomme/ Moeen Ali, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Strategy punt

Quinton de Kock's availability for selection could see Colin de Grandhomme vacate the fourth overseas player's slot. De Kock's quickfire 45 against Kings XI in their last meeting and his breezy 54 against Chennai Super Kings proved pivotal in RCB getting off to steady starts before he took a break to attend Theunis de Bruyn's wedding in South Africa.

The wicketkeeper-batsman's return also gives RCB the option of a left-right opening combination, with Manan Vohra, due to play his 50th IPL match, slotting back in for Parthiv Patel, who opened with Moeen Ali in a left-left combination in RCB's previous game. Going with at least one right-hand batsman at the top could help RCB deal with the threat of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who has a ridiculously good record against left-hand batsmen this season: eight wickets while only conceding 51 runs to them in 58 balls.

Stats that matter

  • Chris Gayle is 42 runs short of becoming the seventh player to score 4000 runs in the IPL

  • Rahul hasn't dominated against spin (average 27.9) the way he has against pace (average 171). Seven of his nine dismissals this season are against spin

  • Kohli, who is 34 runs away from registering 500 runs in an IPL season for the fifth time, has never been dismissed by Ashwin, Tye or Mohit Sharma in the IPL

  • With at least three left-handers in the fray to grab the opening slot, Mujeeb's dot percentage of 55.2 and economy rate of 5.3 against left-handers this season could help keep a tight leash on the RCB openers

  • Ashwin has bowled 192 of his 256 balls this season during the middle overs. In that phase, he has an economy rate of 7.7, has conceded a boundary every eight balls, and has taken four of his six wickets.

Fantasy pick

In his first appearance after gaining the Australia T20I captaincy, Aaron Finch finally broke free, getting past 30 for the first time in six innings this season. If the three sixes he hammered during his 20-ball 34 against Delhi Daredevils doesn't inspire you to pick him in your team, sample this: his strike rate of 161 since 2017 is the highest among the Kings XI batsmen.


"It will be a completely different wicket at Indore. The ground is small. Their batsmen are in form and I think they have the best batting line-up. We'll strategise according to the conditions"
RCB legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal predicts a tough task for his team at the Holkar Stadium

"We'd love to have someone other than KL [Rahul] stand up and go with KL, put a couple of performances on."
Kings XI bowler Andrew Tye on the need for the rest of the line-up to make more substantial contributions