Deflated RCB battle to stay alive against hurt KXIP
One more loss and it'll be curtains for RCB this season. (BCCI Image)

With six consecutive defeats, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have equalled the erstwhile Delhi Daredevils (currently Delhi Capitals) for the worst start by a team in Indian Premier League’s 12-year history. The Daredevils, in 2013, like RCB, had lost their first six games on the trot and not surprisingly, finished with the wooden spoon. Only one team has managed to pull of a similar reversal of fortunes, when in 2014, the then-defending Mumbai Indians staged a stunning comeback – having lose their first five games – to make it to the Playoffs.

RCB are a game behind, and a seventh straight defeat, will not only make it the worst start ever by a team, it would also end RCB’s hopes of making it to the final four. As much as failing as a team might be held accountable for their loss, it is the individuals that have let RCB down the most. According to a mind-blowing stat, RCB have dropped 14 catches and bowled six no balls, the most by any franchise.

They have scored over 200 and yet failed to defend the total. The team is too dependent on AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, and when either batsman fails to score, the rest of the batting crumbles. On top of it, they simply lack good bowlers – Tim Southee has been way too expensive for his experience, and domestic pacers Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini have leaked runs even if they’ve generated pace.

Up against a struggling RCB, the King XI Punjab here has a chance to not only eliminate RCB but also return to winning ways. The last-ball defeat to Mumbai Indians the other night must have left them stung. Fourth on the points table, this has been one of KXIP’s better starts and they are overwhelming favourites to clinch this one. Their team balance is far superior to that of their counterparts, and the side oozes confidence. Will they extinguish RCB’s final ray of hope? We have all the reasons to believe so.

What: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

When: April 13, 2019 (Saturday)

Venue: PCA Stadium, Mohali

Time: 8:00 pm IST

Weather: Showers expected in the afternoon

Teams

Kings XI Punjab

With no clarity over Chris Gayle’s fitness and the extent of the injury, it is likely that the big Jamaican will be offered rest and his back be allowed to heal. In that scenario, KXIP might revert to the KL RahulSam Curran combination which opened against the Capitals. Nicholas Pooran and Moises Henriques are good middle-order options. Henriques has captained Sydney Sixers and was even on as a substitute during the game against Mumbai Indians. Pooran’s inclusion will spare KL Rahul the additional responsibility of keeping wickets, which isn’t a bad move. There is also doubts regarding Mayank Agarwal’s availability after he had injured his finger and had ti miss the previous game.

Probable XI: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Sam Curran, 3 David Miller, 4 Sarfaraz Khan, 5 Mayank Agarwal/Karun Nair, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 Nicholas Pooran(wk)/Moises Henriques, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Hardus Viljoen, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ankit Rajpoot

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Right then. This is something the team management must have deeply pondered. It is unlikely that RCB will tinker with their batting because it’s the best they’ve got. However, one compulsory change that needs to be changed includes fast bowler Siraj, who’s had a couple of disastrous matches. Replacing him with Umesh Yadav is not a move they might shy away from. RCB had spent INR 5 crore on Shivam Dube and despite three failures, the franchise needs to back the youngster for his explosive batting by promoting him up further.

Probable XI: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Shivam Dube/Moeen Ali, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Akshdeep Nath, 7 Pawan Negi, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav/Mohammed Siraj, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Navdeep Saini

Head-to-Head

Played 22

Won by KXIP: 12

Won by RCB: 10