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After being largely short circuted early season, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s production line of batsmen has blazed away heading into the business end of the IPL. AB de Villiers was at it against Mumbai Indians, clattering 133 off 59 balls to effectively seal the game in the first half itself. Virat Kohli, meanwhile, has played Asafa Powell to Chris Gayle’s Usain Bolt; Royal Challengers charging to five wins in their last six completed games.
The top three, with 1223 runs between them, will target Kings XI Punjab again. A win on Wednesday will help the visitors catch up with Kolkata Knight Riders by leapfrogging Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad as the scramble for playoffs hots up. Despite being the weaker suit, Royal Challengers’ bowling has been in healthy shape with the likes of S Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal and David Wiese complementing Mitchell Starc.
The first time these two teams met this season encapsulated how everything has gone pear-shaped for Kings XI. They had dropped Gayle twice and the bowlers went on to concede 226, after which the batting line-up was wiped out for 88.
David Miller hit back with an unbeaten 89 off 44 balls in Kings XI’s previous game against Sunrisers but it came a little too late. The Indian players will have to rally round and spur the team to click in unison if Kings XI are to break their seven-match winless streak.
Kings XI Punjab LLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore WWLWW
Watch out for…
S Aravind is no Adam Milne, but has gone about his business steadily in his first IPL after three years, taking five wickets in two games at seven runs an over. His assortment of slower balls has been vital in tying down the opposition.
Wriddhiman Saha, who recorded the first IPL hundred in a final last season, has had very little to do this season apart from snapping up a few sharp catches behind the wicket. His dip in batting form is perhaps a consequence of not having a definite role in the side.
Stats and trivia
- Kings XI (90) hold the unwanted record of losing the most wickets in IPL 2015
- Gayle is four short of smashing 200 sixes for Royal Challengers. Kohli and De Villiers have struck 192 together
“He is very special. Not many people can do what he does. The freedom, the commitment he shows towards his shots and the enjoyment factor when he plays out there is something that I would love to take from him.”
David Miller on AB de Villiers