Battle of survival for Royal Challengers
Struggling Bangalore Royal Challengers face a must-win situation when they take on Kings XI Punjab in their away match in the IPL at the Punjab Cricket Association Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on Monday.
For Royal Challengers, it has been a tough road in the inaugural Twenty20 tournament. The Bangalore team have registered just two victories — against Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers — and lost six matches.
The Rahul Dravid-led Bangalore team, languishing at the bottom of the points table, cannot afford another defeat, if they want to keep their semi-final hopes alive. A loss here might see a premature end to their IPL campaign this season.
Kings XI, on the other hand, have came back strongly after two defeats in the beginning of the tournament. They registered five consecutive victories before going down to Chennai Super Kings by 18 runs Saturday.
The Punjab side, placed third in the leader-board, is well on course for a semi-final berth with ten points from eight matches and a victory Monday will take them a step closer to semifinals.
Kings XI will be eager to return to winning ways after Saturday’s loss and will go out all guns blazing against Royal Challengers in their home turf.
Kings XI are one of the few teams in the tournament with a balanced line-up. Their batting and bowling has clicked in the tournament so far. Australian import Shaun Marsh has been phenomenal up the order. However, absence of Kumar Sangakkara, who is out due to an injury, and the poor form of skipper Yuvraj Singh remains a matter of concern for the hosts.
The Punjab side have teeth in their bowling attack too. After departure of Australian speedster Brett Lee, the pace trio of Irfan Pathan, S. Sreesanth and V.R.V. Singh have done well to shoulder the responsibility.
Incidentally, three of the five wins of the Kings XI have come on their home turf in Mohali where their pace attack has taken full advantage of the bouncy track.
Royal Challengers have failed to get their act together and have lost some close matches. They lost their last match against Kolkata Knight Riders by just five runs. The batting line-up - Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, and Mark Boucher - comprise some of the best names of Test cricket but they have failed to deliver in this fast-paced format.
Dravid needs to re-think his batting line-up and should send T20 specialist Cameron White and youngster Virat Kohli up the order to give themselves a chance of an explosive start. The bowling department, led by South African pacer Dale Steyn and Zaheer Khan, have performed well though.