The Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on the Kings XI Punjab at Indore in match 8 of IPL 2017 on April 10. Two teams who rely mainly on their batsmen to win them matches, but ironically, their first wins in the tournament have come courtesy their bowlers. While the Kings XI bowlers restricted the Rising Pune Supergiant to a chasable total, the RCB bowlers did a great job to restrict the DD to 142 when they were chasing 158 to win.
It won’t be long before their batsmen come to the fore and start winning matches for them. While the RCB have the firepower of Gayle, Watson, Jadhav and Mandeep in their top 4, the Kings have Amla, Maxwell, Miller and Stoinis to answer all questions the RCB bowlers might ask of them.
A contest between these two equally matched sides is sure to be a mouth-watering one.
Let’s take a look at 5 winning factors for the teams:
#1 With the bat
It doesn’t happen very often that when a side plays against RCB, it is the stronger batting side, but it will surely be the case here as RCB are struggling with injuries and are without the services of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and KL Rahul. Kings XI, on the other hand, have four explosive overseas batsmen in their ranks, in Amla, skipper Maxwell, David Miller and Marcus Stoinis.
Among the Indian batsmen, the Kings XI will rely on the talented Manan Vohra, in the absence of Murali Vijay, to give them a good start in the company of the classy Amla. Keeper Wriddhiman Saha has been used quite often by the Kings at No. 3 and this may continue to be the case for this match as well.
Axar Patel, who was promoted to No. 4 in Kings’ first match, is a decent batsman too, and if they consider Gurkeerat Mann for selection, their batting line up could well be called one of the best in the tournament.
RCB will once again rely on the man in form, Kedar Jadhav, to guide their innings after Chris Gayle and skipper Watson give them a start. Mandeep Singh and Stuart Binny can provide the required fireworks too, but in the end, it would all come down to Watson-Gayle-Jadhav vs Amla-Maxwell-Miller.
#2 With the ball
RCB is short on bowling experience, there isn’t a question about it. Barring Watson, there isn’t a lot of experience, but Yuzvendra Chahal and Tymal Mills are more than capable of winning a game on their own.
The likes of Billy Stanlake, Iqbal Abdulla, Pawan Negi and Stuart Binny will have to give them good support if they have to either restrict the explosive Kings XI batting line-up from getting to a big score, or chasing one down.
The Kings XI bowling attack is quite green too, in terms of international experience, but the Sharmas, Sandeep and Mohit, as well as Axar Patel, have a lot of IPL experience under their belt. Marcus Stoinis has developed into a good bowler in the last year or so, and the left arm pacer, Natarajan, can just prove to be the X-factor that a side needs.
It is going to be Mills vs Natarajan, Axar vs Chahal, and Watson vs Sandeep in the game.
Kings XI adopted a strategy last match which not many were anticipating. With Maxwell now the captain, most opposition teams would have thought he’d open, like he had done in the two T20Is against Sri Lanka not too long ago, but the Kings surprised everybody by holding him back till No. 5, and even sent Axar Patel ahead of him at 4.
Maybe the move was designed to have the firepower of Maxwell, Miller and Stoinis at 5, 6 and 7 and keep the more steady batsmen higher up, but this move might need to be re-worked if the Kings bat first. In this case, it won’t be a bad idea to have Maxwell in at 3 so that he gets to face as many deliveries as possible. With the kind of form he has been in lately, this move can work wonders for the Kings.
Playing Stoinis at 4, if they are batting first, might also be a good move considering the hitting abilities he showed in the one-day series against NZ. 7 might be too low for a man of his talent.
For the RCB, continuing to open with Shane Watson might be a good move as he has always been a better player of fast bowling, and when the ball is new, he can make great use of the powerplay with the explosive Gayle. A smart move perhaps might be to try and bat Kedar Jadhav at 3 instead of 4, considering the kind of form he showed in the last two matches this IPL. The way he is batting, he might get a hundred if he stays at the crease for 12-14 overs.
In the bowling department, Kings XI must consider playing KC Kariappa ahead of Swapnil Singh as he would add more variety to their attack which might be needed to stop the likes of Jadhav, Gayle and Watson. The RCB must keep faith in the same bowling attack that helped them defend 157 against the DD.
#4 The “M” factor for the Kings XI
Kings XI Punjab seem to have a strange affinity with the letter M, by design or sheer coincidence; just like the Sri Lankan team had some time ago when they played Murali, Malinga, Mendis, and Mathews. Have a look at their players named with the letter M in their XI last match – Manan, Maxwell, Miller, Marcus, Mohit. Even from the ones in their squad, they have Morgan, Martin (Guptill), Marsh, Matt (Henry) and (Gurkeerat) Mann!
For their success, it is imperative that their M’s fire. In the last two seasons, what proved to be their downfall was the fact that both their big M’s, Maxwell and Miller, were out of form, and Manan Vohra and Mohit Sharma weren’t able to perform consistently.
They have started this season very well with both Maxwell and Miller combining to win them the first match and skipper Maxwell winning the Man of the Match award. But they will have to keep firing for the Kings to get past RCB this match.
#5 The top order for the RCB
This season, as indeed in most seasons, the cream of the RCB batting lies in their top order. For the RCB to make a match out of it, Gayle, Watson, and Jadhav will have to bat for a majority of the 20 overs, whether they are batting first or second.
Chris Gayle hasn’t produced his trademark innings for quite some time now where he hits sixes at will and gets a hundred in no time. This might be a perfect time for him to do so, with Kohli and AB missing. Shane Watson too showed signs of coming back to form when he struck some crisp fours in the powerplay against the pacers of DD, and he will need to continue doing so against the Kings too if the RCB are to challenge the Kings who are looking good under Maxwell.
Kedar Jadhav’s purple patch might be RCB’s biggest plus this season. He didn’t get many matches last season but how it has changed for him in a year! He is their premier batsman this time and RCB would love to see him get another big one to help them continue the winning run.