With AB de Villiers on fire and Harshal Patel running away with the purple cap, RCB will fancy their chances
KL Rahul was at a loss for words as he tried to find reasons for a profoundly tame performance by his team in their last game. How does a T20 line-up with so many hitters – Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Mayank Agarwal, Deepak Hooda and Rahul himself – slip and stumble and careen to 123 for 9 against a team that was bottom of the table? Punjab Kings’ problem of putting together consistent performances – an issue they had struggled against even before their name change – seems to have cropped up again.
Royal Challengers Bangalore used to struggle with the same thing. Superstar batters. Not enough wins. But this season, as much as they do appear dependent on AB de Villiers, the bowling line-up has played an equally important part in keeping them in the top half of the IPL points table. Mohammed Siraj’s time with the Indian team has turned him into a brand new bowler and Harshal Patel is running away with the purple cap.
Punjab Kings: 1 KL Rahul (capt & wk), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Chris Gayle/Dawid Malan, 4 Deepak Hooda/Mandeep Singh, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Moises Henriques/Fabian Allen, 7 Shahrukh Khan/ Sarfaraz Khan, 8 Chris Jordan/Jhye Richardson, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Virat Kohli (capt), 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Washington Sundar, 7 Kyle Jamieson, 8 Daniel Sams, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Given the Punjab Kings’ performance in their last game, it appears time to give Dawid Malan a go. He has been a reliable and rapid scorer for England at the top of their order – not to mention he is the No. 1 T20I batter in the world – and the benefits of offering him a similar role could help stabilise a batting line-up that seems unhealthily reliant on the form of its captain.
AB de Villiers hasn’t faced much of either Ravi Bishnoi (10 runs off 7 balls) or Arshdeep Singh (0 off 0). So maybe two unknown quantities can help tie down one of IPL’s best finisher? In any case, he absolutely tears into Mohammed Shami (48 runs off 27 balls) and Chris Jordan (53 off 27) so the Kings might also be thinking about bringing in one of Jhye Richardson or Riley Meredith for bowling support.
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Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo