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By B D Narayankar
Bangalore: May 8, 2014
The spotlight will be firmly on Glenn Maxwell and Royal Challengers Bangalore‘s (RCB) Chris Gayle as the two power-hitters gear up to lead a dazzling array of strokemakers, with the high-flying Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) seeking to maintain their stranglehold in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.
Maxwell fell within touching distance of a century for the fourth time in the competition but that was enough to power his team, Kings XI Punjab, to a comprehensive win over Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and occupy the top slot. A carnage, once again, appears to be on the cards as there is no dearth of explosive batsmen in both sides.
If KXIP have Virender Sehwag, David Miller and George Bailey beides the in-form Maxwell, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, apart from Gayle, boast of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, match-winners in their own right.
Having lost to Mumbai Indians (MI) away in their last game, RCB would look to exploit the home advantage to get back the momentum. They would hope that their famed batting line-up fires in unison against the formidable KIXP.
RCB started off well, winning their first two games, and that too, without Gayle, but things went awry after that as they suffered three reverses in the UAE. The home side ended the losing streak by ensuring a win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), only to be thrashed by Mumbai in its last game.
Bangalore have managed six points and are locked with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the points table. Having come back after missing Bangalore’s first four games due to a hamstring injury, Gayle has been explosive in short stints and is looking for that big one.
Skipper Kohli has appeared off-colour in the last few games and the 25-year-old would also be eager to get a big score. Yuvraj Singh, who was bought for a whopping Rs 14 crore by Vijay Mallya, has been not lived upto the billing.
De Villiers, who blazed away to 69 against Hyderabad last week, to single-handedly power Bangalore to a sensational four-wicket win, would look to get going after failing against Mumbai.
RCB’s bowling attack looks balanced with pacer Varun Aaron (11 wickets), Mitchell Starc (9) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (8) up their ranks. Leg-spinner Chahal has been the surprise package for RCB. Apart from the one against Hyderabad, he has picked up wickets in every game.
On the other hand, having steamrolled every team except Mumbai, Punjab will like to continue their winning momentum.
Maxwell has been in the form of his life, and he once again exhibited his incredible stroke-making when he blasted a 38-ball 90, to single-handedly take Punjab to a 44-run victory over Chennai. Maxwell, the highest run-scorer this season with 435 from seven matches, butchered the Chennai bowlers into submission as Punjab scored 231 for four the highest total in IPL-7.
South African David Miller have also been making handsome contributions with the bat. KXIP openers Cheteshwar Pujara and Sehwag have would look for more consistency. Skipper Bailey, too, found his bearings with a hurricane 40-run knock against Chennai.
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