IPL 2021 Preview: RCB favourite against shaky Punjab Kings

Punjab Kings (PBKS) is not short on batting firepower, with the likes of K.L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Deepak Hooda and Nicholas Pooran in the ranks. Big runs, however, have been hard to find, leading to PBKS’ four losses in six outings.

The most recent failure came on Monday, when PBKS could muster only 123 for nine in a one-sided defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders. The most worrying aspect is the form of West Indian Pooran, who averages a dismal 5.6 for the tournament. Calls to include Dawid Malan – a proven T20 performer – in the playing eleven have grown louder.

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PBKS will be tested once again, at Ahmedabad on Friday, against an RCB team which boasts of a good attack. Pacer Mohammed Siraj has been impressive with the new ball and at the death. Harshal Patel (17 wickets) holds the Purple Cap. Off-spinner Washington Sundar can be trusted to bowl four tidy overs without leaking runs.

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RCB’s batsmen, meanwhile, have been on song. The team is heavily reliant on the top-order, consisting of Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers. More often than not, one of the four have come good. In the previous outing, it was de Villiers who shone bright, hitting an unbeaten 75 in RCB’s one-run win over Delhi Capitals.

A steady 22-ball 31 from unheralded Rajat Patidar proved that he is ready for bigger tests to come.

With all departments in fine working order, RCB has notched up five wins in six games. PBKS, led by Karnataka lad Rahul, will need to put up a much improved show to stop the RCB juggernaut.

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