Kings XI Punjab have won 2 matches in their last 3 outings in IPL 2016 © AFP
Kings XI Punjab have won 2 matches in their last 3 outings in IPL 2016 © AFP

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Match 39 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 at Mohali on Monday. Both the sides have had a roller-coaster ride so far in the tournament but have managed to make a comeback somehow, every time they went on the back foot with a loss. KXIP, who are at the bottom of the points table of IPL 2016 at the moment, have boosted confidence with two wins in their last three matches. They have beaten the likes of Gujarat Lions (GL) and Delhi Daredevils (DD), while RCB are coming off a superb victory against Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) in their previous outing in the ninth edition of IPL. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 at Mohali

RCB finally registered their third win of IPL 2016 three consecutive losses, thanks to skipper Virat Kohli’s second hundred of this season of IPL. While RCB have played eight matches, Punjab have played an extra game with their campaign more or less finished. However, if RCB go on to win all the remainder of their matches, there are chances they can make it to the final four of IPL 9. Until RCB’s game against Pune, it was just David Warner who had two IPL centuries to his name and Kohli equalised that in just one season or rather in a couple of matches.

Kohli, who is being criticised for his poor captaincy in the shortest format in this ongoing edition of IPL made a brave decision of dropping Chris Gayle to bring in a new face, Travis Head in the playing XI. Although Gayle is yet to play his usual firing innings in IPL 2016, his presence in the side at least keeps the hopes alive that Gayle might strike on that particular day.

Kohli, during the post man presentation after thei win against RPS said, “No, Gayle was not rested. We chose Travis Head in place of him because we felt like we needed more solidarity in the middle order. Travis strikes the ball really well and KL (Rahul) and me are opening well for the team, and Travis can bowl off-spin as well in the middle if need be.

“So that was the plan because (Pune) had three left-handers in the side and if there was a situation where another bowler went for a few runs, you always have someone like Travis who can bowl a couple of overs. And he proved himself in Mumbai as well. He strikes the ball really well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Punjab’s all-round performance in their fixture against high on confidence Delhi Daredevils helped them win only their third match of this season. Despite having power hitters like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Manan Vohra and Murali Vijay, the batsmen have really been out of form to make any impact. Even the bowling department, barring Mohit Sharma, no other bowler has really chipped in with a consistent match-winning performance. The positive for KXIP has come in the form of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who has been impressive with both bat and ball in KXIP’s recent wins.

In the previous match against Delhi, following skipper Murali Vijay’s early dismissal Stonis took charge as he went on to score his maiden half-century of IPL 2016 and that came in a winning cause so this innings will only give him confidence for the upcoming matches. With Shaun Marsh being ruled out of the remainder of IPL 9, Hashim Amla has been included in the squad. However, he had a forgettable start to his campaign as he was dismissed for a five-ball one. Amla might take time to get used to the team and conditions, however Punjab surely cannot afford to wait that long. With five more matches to go for them in the group stage, only wins can let them bow out of the tournament on a high and those upsets towards the end will help in turning an apparently “boring” IPL 2016 into an interesting one.

RCB’s bowling is still a concern and it is not wrong to assume until they solve the issues in that area, winning their maiden IPL trophy still seems far away. The current season has witnessed superb efforts from the RCB batsmen who have helped them post totals like 190+, however the wins haven’t happened because the bowlers have miserably failed to defend even those targets. Shane Watson has easily been their best bowler by far, having picked 12 wickets in eight games. However, his economy has been 8.26 and since this is RCB’s best so far shows the struggle there.

Overall, the clash between Punjab and Bangalore is a battle between sides with similar situations at the moment. Both the sides have quality batting line-up and what they lack is a good bowling to back them. Regardless of the result, Mohali is ensured of fireworks when the likes of Kohli, Maxwell, Miller, Gayle and other T20 specialists take the field.

Squads:

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP): David Miller, Murali Vijay (c), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchel Johnson, Kyle Abott, Farhaan Behardien, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Mohit Sharma, Gurukeerat Singh, Manan Vohra, Sandeep Sharma, Hashim Amla, Akshar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, Swapnil Singh, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, K C Carriappa, Nikhil Naik, Arman Jaffar, Pradeep Shahu.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadav (wk), Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Stuart Binny, Kane Richardson, Tabraiz Shamsi, Travis Head, Praveen Dubey, Vikramjeet Malik, Akshay Karnewar, Iqbal Abdullah, Sachin Baby, Vikas Tokas.

Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)