Preview: Punjab clash with Bangalore in a must win tie

Adam Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty will have to fire for Punjab to have any chance of upsetting Bangalore AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Bengaluru: May 5, 2011

Momentum in a tournament is a facet that plays a big role in the progress of the any side. The Royal Challengers Bangalore were at the receiving end of that momentum, having gone winless in four games in a row. Punjab, on the other hand, went on to win three successive games and things were looking very different for them from what one had thought would be the case.

Then, Chris Gayle joined the Bangalore side, played a swashbuckling knock that got him a century and set the ball rolling. Virat Kohli followed it up with a couple of man of the match awards, Zaheer Khan showed semblance of a return to form and suddenly, Bangalore go into this encounter with three continuous wins.

Punjab can blame the schedule for losing the momentum as they have not played too many games in the last five days. After Paul Valthaty and Shaun Marsh had seen the side off to six points, they have not added another to their kitty in the last three games.

Given the frantic clamour for points, with the IPL having got to the business end, the game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab at the M Chinnaswamy stadium holds a lot of importance for both sides.

Bangalore have nine points from eight games, which pushes them into needing three wins as the bare minimum from their remaining six games. What they need to be wary of is that their nearest competition comes in the form of Rajasthan with whom their game was abandoned and allowed them the luxury of that one extra point too. A loss here will put them two short of Rajasthan with a game less, making it a head-to-head battle with the Royals.

That said, it will also mean that Punjab could still have an outside chance of going through to the playoffs ahead of Rajasthan and Bangalore. Punjab, however, will barely be able to accept a loss, given their poor, six points from seven games that they have now.

Bangalore s top-order will hold the key, while, for Punjab, it is the middle-order which hasn t done its job yet. T Dilshan s form-loss notwithstanding, the side has got off to good starts and snuffed out the opponents recently. Adam Gilchrist has had no such luxuries and he will have to find the runs.

Bangalore has Daniel Vettori and the somewhat scratchy-seeming Zaheer with the ball while Ryan Harris and Praveen Kumar need to take up most of the onus for Punjab. In the end, it could boil down to which of the teams backup bowl better than the other.

Teams:

RCB (Probable): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Saurabh Tiwary, Mohammad Kaif, Abhimanyu Mithun, Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori (c), Sreenath Aravind, Syed Mohammad.

KXIP (Probable): Paul Valthaty, Adam Gilchrist (c&wk), Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar, Bipul Nayar, Piyush Chawla, Ryan Harris, Praveen Kumar, Bhargav Bhatt

Time: 20.00 local (14.30 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)