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By B D Narayankar
Bangalore: May 13, 2013
A question mark hanging over their play-off chances, Royal Challengers Bangalore return to the comfort of home as they clash with Kings XI Punjab in the 63rd match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Four defeats in their last six matches have landed them in a situation where they must win their penultimate contest, otherwise not only they will have to win their last match but also pray that results of some other matches go their way.
Bangalore have played their last six matches away from home and returning to the familiar conditions, where they have not lost a single match, would be a comforting factor.
The last time they played at Chinnaswamy stadium was on April 23 when they trounced Pune Warriors by 130 runs. After that they have travelled to six different venues and managed just two wins.
The recent five-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders in Ranchi on a very slow pitch, hurt them badly as it gives Sunrisers Hyderabad a chance to snatch fourth position from them. Hyderabad play Mumbai in an away contest today.
And RCB are now playing an opponent, which they had no mat in their last meeting but a hurricane knock by David Miller pulled the rug from under their feet.
Bangalore would like to return the compliment when they host Punjab and they would find themselves in a hole if they don’t win on Tuesday as the visitors are also fancying an outside chance by winning their remaining three matches to get to 16 points.
With 16 points and currently at the fourth spot, RCB have to win their remaining two games to make it to the play-offs as Sunrisers Hyderabad (16 points) and KKR (12) also stand a chance to qualify, provided they win their remaining games.
RCB captain Virat Kohli would expect Chris Gayle to explode with his bat in this game as the West Indian has been quiet in last few matches.
For Gayle Chinnaswamy has been a happy hunting ground as he has scored 427 runs here out of the 603 scored this season.
Kohli is also a vital cog in the RCB batting lineup as he has to ability to shift gears according to situation. The flamboyant cricketer has scored 521 runs with 99 as his highest individual score this season.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who has worked on his attacking instincts and has added aerial shots to his repertoire, has a role of a sheet-anchor in the side while AB de Villiers has been a tremendous finisher of the game. He has invented a few amazing shots, very useful in this format of the game.
Talented Australian all-rounder, Moises Henriques, is also an impact cricketer and RCB need all their players to contribute.
On the bowling front, Ravi Rampaul, Murali Kartik and Vinay Kumar have done well for RCB but profligates Jaydev Unadkat and Abhimanyu Mithun are a matter of concern.
Good things is they they are up against a side, which is inconsistent in batting. Adam Gilchrist, one of the most feared batsmen of his generation, has been a disappointment this year, scoring a dismal 162 in ten matches.
After dropping himself due to poor form, the Australian left-hander has played some useful innings against Rajasthan and Hyderabad in last two encounters.
The batting which comprises players like David Hussey, Shaun Marsh and Mandeep Singh have failed to click as a unit, and barring couple of individual performances, has let down the team on most occasions.
Gilchrist would expect killer Miller to repeat his swashbuckling performance he put up against RCB at Mohali. He had launched a blitzkrieg to dwarf the visitors with a match-winning unbeaten whirlwind 101.
However, Punjab’s strength has been their bowling attack led by medium pacer Praveen Kumar that also includes medium pacers Parvinder Awana, Manpreet Gony, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and recent inclusion Bipul Sharma.
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