The time could not have been perfect for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Indore on Monday. After a disappointing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 campaign, KXIP were off to a winning start against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in IPL 10 at their adopted home venue, Indore. On the other hand, after missing their star players and losing the tournament opener, RCB bounced back to edge past Delhi Daredevils (DD) in their first home game of the season. With one win each, both sides will battle hard for seeking consecutive victories. KXIP will like to got the better of RCB, having a better head-to-head record (10-8). Full Cricket Scorecard, Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2017, Match 8
However, before jotting down the team composition, let us look at the possibility of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers returning to RCB colours for this clash. There has been no official announcement regarding their participation from the dugout. Nonetheless, stand-in captain, Shane Watson, dropped a bombshell in the post-match presentation ceremony after his side defeated DD by 15 runs. “They’ll be back for the next game,”stated a confident Watson, when Sanjay Mangrekar asked about Kohli-de Villiers injury-status. Nonetheless, when Mangrekar inquired whether he is a ‘reliable source’, he replied in the negative with a grin.
There is enough mystery surrounding RCB’s two biggest match-winners’ participation against KXIP. With no confirmed news, let us take into consideration that Watson will continue to don the captain’s hat.
Watson and Chris Gayle opened the innings in the last clash with Mandeep Singh dropping down to No. 3. RCB could still not manage a pleasant start, but will like to move on with the same ploy as it gives their main batsmen enough overs to demolish any opposition. Man of the Match, India’s trump card in ODIs and a day-by-day improving finisher, Kedar Jadhav will walk in at No. 4.
Jadhav played a blinder versus DD on Saturday. He came to the pitch of the ball, applied weight on the back foot and scooped the full length and slightly wide-off deliveries around the park. He was a treat to watch for the Bengaluru fans. He will like to carry on in same stead, like he mentioned in the presentation ceremony, and apply his bottom hand to good effect versus KXIP. RCB do not have an inspiring lower order, but may retain majority of their players to maintain the winning combination and add more depth to their bowling.
For that matter, Stuart Binny will come in at No. 5. He added a valuable 66-run stand with Jadhav on Saturday. Playing the second fiddle, Binny gave a lending hand to Jadhav’s mavericks. He will be eager to add more runs under his belt with ICC Champions Trophy coming up after the six-week long tournament. Vishnu Vinod and Pawan Negi will follow at No. 6 and 7 respectively.
Iqbal Abdulla picked up two important wickets in his side’s maiden win in the tenth edition. Getting rid of DD’s Sam Billings and Chris Morris, Abdulla did a decent job. Nonetheless, the Indore track offers something for every bowler and RCB may bring in a seamer in form of Sreenath Aravind. Abdulla may face the brunt owing to his expensive spell (3-0-36-2 versus DD) and KXIP’s seamers’ good show against RPS on the same pitch.
Abdulla ‘maybe’ replaced by Aravind at No. 8. Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills and Billy Stanlake will fill up the remaining slots. RCB will go ahead with almost the same bowling unit which defended a par score versus DD. Chahal, Mills and Stanlake will spearhead the attack along with vital support from Negi, Aravind/Abdulla, Watson and Binny. Their bowling looked much improved after the drubbing received against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), and will be adamant to carry on in similar fashion.
RCB likely XI: Shane Watson (c), Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Vishnu Vinod (wk), Pawan Negi, Iqbal Abdulla/Sreenath Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills, Billy Stanlake
Let us take into account how their line-up will be in case Kohli-de Villiers make a comeback.
RCB XI: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Kedar Jadhav, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi, Iqbal Abdulla/Sreenath Aravind, Tymal Mills, Yuzvendra Chahal
Moving onto hosts, KXIP…
KXIP, in my view, bought too many players for one slot, i.e. middle order. As a result, they had to make two seasoned campaigners, like Eoin Morgan and Darren Sammy, sit out of the playing XI versus RPS. They may not change the winning combination, but making Morgan warm the benches when he has to leave for national duty in May, makes little sense. If he sits out entirely, it was no point putting a price on him in the IPL auction.
Marcus Stoinis and Manan Vohra can open the innings for the hosts. Stoinis has some experience opening the innings (highest score: 52; strike rate- 123.44) and can change the complexion of the game in no time. Wriddhiman Saha will continue batting at No. 3 before Morgan can take up the No. 4 slot. He is in good form and should not be wasted warming the benches. Skipper, Glenn Maxwell, will be handy at 5 with the kind of form he is in. A 20-ball 44 (against RPS) and winning start under his leadership will keep him in good mindset.
David Miller is regarded highly in the KXIP camp. His blitz against RCB in the 2013 edition was breath taking. He will like to take a leaf from that innings and deliver the goods at No. 6. KXIP’s floater, Akshar Patel, can go for the kill in the lower order, batting at 7. The bowlers, Swapnil Singh, TN Natarajan, Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Singh, will take up the remaining positions for the hosts.
KXIP did well to restrict RPS in their opening tie. Swapnil and Natarajan will be on their toes against the likes of Gayle and Jadhav. On the other hand, Mohit, Sandeep, Stoinis and Akshar will like to curb the run flow in the middle overs with their variations.
KXIP likely XI: Marcus Stoinis, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Eoin Morgan, Glenn Maxwell (c), David Miller, Akshar Patel, Swapnil Singh, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, TN Natarajan
Predictions: RCB would be content with their bowling efforts against DD. Nonetheless, they have a task in hand to stop a rampant KXIP side who boost of some quality hitters in their wings. On the other hand, a win-ratio in favour of KXIP puts them a step ahead of their opponents. RCB’s inconsistency and average record while travelling can hurt them at Indore. However, the equation can change if Kohli-de Villiers are deemed fit for the game.
Kings XI Punjab: Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Martin Guptill, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Akshar Patel, Glenn Maxwell (c), Gurkeerat Singh, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), M Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Hashim Amla, Ishant Sharma
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli (c), Kedar Jadhav (wk), Stuart Binny, Iqbal Abdullah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sreenath Aravind, Tymal Mills, Avesh Khan, Samuel Badree, Praveen Dubey, Travid Head, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Pawan Negi, Harshal Patel, Sachin Baby, Tabraiz Shamsi, Billy Stanlake
Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT