The seventh match of the IPL sees two amazing batting lineups clash. Kings XI and Bangalore are set to battle it out in Bengaluru, a batting paradise with its grassy pitch and small stadium size. The two teams have had contrasting fortunes in their opening games. The former won theirs comfortably while the latter lost to KKR on similar terms.
This encounter can’t not be an absolute run fest, with names like de Villiers, Kohli, KL Rahul, McCullum, maybe Gayle/Finch, and many others. Both teams have a point to prove in the IPL, never having won it. Moreover, they are regulars in the elimination rounds. Can RCB earn their first victory of the season, or will the Kings get their second in a row?
Kings XI Punjab
Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson.
Where the teams stand
Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI’s middle order proved themselves in the last match despite KL Rahul’s brilliance at the top. Yuvraj and Mayank struggled, but Miller and Stoinis stayed cool to take Punjab home. Karun Nair played an exceptional hand of 50 from 33 too. The biggest question troubling Punjab is whether to continue playing 17-year-old Afghanistani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman instead of the likes of Gayle and Finch. Rahman was excellent on debut, taking two big scalps and maintaining an economy of just 7 throughout. He even enforced a run-out. It’s a difficult choice, but it would be a grave injustice to drop Rahman after such an outing. Finch missed the first match due to his wedding being scheduled on the 7th, so he wasn't dropped in favor of Rahman. This means that Finch would be preferred over Gayle should Punjab choose to have an extra batsman on such a batting friendly wicket. There is a chance Miller might be dropped, but he has been a regular for the team for a while. Finch would definitely get into any other eleven ahead of him, but whether Ashwin is willing to go through with it is doubtful.
Ashwin had a great first match as captain with the ball as well. His economy was below 6, and he had a wicket to his name. However, besides Rahman, the rest were expensive, going at above 8 at the minimum. At Bangalore, these two will have to be the ones to stop the onslaught. The pitch is bound to be a graveyard for pacers, and bowlers will need to take pace off the ball. Mohit Sharma will be ideal in such a situation. The man has a deceptive slower ball, and he has used it to great success over the years in the IPL. Stoinis is another great bowling option despite getting only one over in the last game. Punjab is well prepared for this challenge.
Fantasy Picks: The opening pair is in great form, especially KL Rahul as he proved in the last match. Rahman is a huge gamble despite his performance in the first game. Stoinis is another player to watch out for. Miller and Yuvraj are dangerous picks due to their fickle form.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Kohli admitted that at the end of the first innings of the last game, Bangalore were 10-15 runs short despite scoring 176 on an excellent batting wicket. McCullum was excellent at the top, amassing 43 in 27. Mandeep Singh and AB were both striking at 200, but Kohli scored only 31 in 33 balls, hogging valuable deliveries. Sarfaraz did the same at the death, wasting 10 deliveries that could’ve gone for runs. de Kock struggled at the crease during his short stay as well. The Challengers need to focus on finishing better, and they have the batting lineup for it. These names are some of the best in the T20 circuit, and they can easily compete with Punjab’s lineup.
Though KKR took Bangalore’s bowlers to the cleaners, their attack is still the best RCB has ever had. Chris Woakes took 3 wickets, but conceded at 9. Washington Sundar bore the brunt of Narine’s attack. He has been great for Tamil Nadu and India, but he had an off day last match. Umesh Yadav was great, with 2 wickets and an economy of 6.75. It would be harsh to judge this attack based on the last match. They have a lot of quality bowlers and are more competent as an attack than Punjab’s. Both teams are relatively evenly matched overall, making for a closely fought encounter.
Fantasy Picks: Chahal has a good record at the Chinnaswamy and is one bowler who could be the most successful if he can out-think the batsman. de Villiers and Kohli are reliable picks with the bat, given their status in world cricket. Chris Woakes is an X-factor who can contribute with both bat and ball, but is a gamble considering he might not get to bat.
RCB win. Playing at home, they have an advantage with a superior batting lineup.
Who will come out on top in this epic IPL clash, the Kings XI Punjab or Royal Challengers Bangalore? Let us know in the comments and poll below.