Sharjah, (Asian independent) Bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will be under tremendous pressure as they now face a must-win situation when they take on the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.
After losing six of their seven games, the KL Rahul-led KXIP are languishing at the bottom of the points table with two points. Despite having the top-two leading run-getters of the season in skipper Rahul (387 runs) and Mayank Agarwal (337), KXIP have failed in getting wins.
Barring the duo, the other KXIP batters have failed to click and lack of an all-round effort has been clearly visible. Same is the condition of the bowling attack as except Mohammad Shami and Ravi Bishnoi, the others have been off-colour.
However, KXIP can draw some confidence from the fact their solitary win in ongoing season had come against RCB. Moreover, Chris Gayle, who has warmed the bench in the previous games, is likely to get a game on Thursday.
Looking at the perfect batting conditions here, Gayle could create an absolute carnage but remains to be seen how quickly the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ gets into the act.
The KXIP think-tank might axe an out-of-form Glenn Maxwell in order to accommodate Gayle.
RCB, which stand at the third place in points table with 10 points in their kitty, will aim to consolidate their position in the table.
The RCB top-order comprising Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are in good touch and can destroy even the best bowling attack.
Similarly, their bowlers have also stepped up whenever the team needed. The arrival of Chris Morris has further boosted the pace attack and the South African all-rounder can also prove to be handy with the bat if needed.
Isuru Udana too has also been decent with the ball while Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar have executed their plans perfectly, creating trouble for the opposition batters.
While Kohli and Co will look to avenge their last defeat, KXIP will certainly aim to spoil the party and in such a case, another thrilling contest is likely to be witnessed at a batting-friendly Sharjah wicket.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa
Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (Captain), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen, Simran Singh