Ravi Ashwin and his men came flying out off the blocks in the early stages of the tournament but that outstanding form is starting to dissipate in recent matches.
WHEELS COMING OFF FOR KXIP
Two defeats have come in the last three matches for KXIP with the latest of them coming at home to Mumbai Indians where the visitors smashed the required 15 runs off the final over to scale the target of 198 with the last delivery of the match.
It was the second poor bowling display from Ashwin’s men in their 2019 campaign with the other coming against Kolkata Knight Riders where they conceded 218 runs. The bowling unit has been the biggest letdown this season with the batting looking formidable.
Openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have rediscovered the form that made them such a fearsome proposition in the 2018 edition with both batsmen looking extremely good in the last-gasp loss to Mumbai.
Rahul now has three half-centuries and one ton in his last five appearances while Gayle’s 36-ball 63 against Mumbai was his second fifty of the campaign. With Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh also looking the part in the middle-order, it is the batting card which has seen Punjab win four of their seven games so far.
While their bowling might remain a worry, the batting will hope to impose further misery on a struggling RCB side which is yet to open its account in the 2019 edition after six straight defeats.
RCB’S PERENNIAL MISERY CONTINUES
Everything that can go wrong for Virat Kohli and men has gone wrong with the franchise’s wait for a maiden IPL title set to continue for another year at least.
There are concerns across every department in the RCB side with neither the batting or the bowling clicking so far. With the ball, only leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been able to hold his head high with nine wickets so far but the rest of the bowlers have disappointed big time with no total being too high to chase for the opposition.
With the bat, the star-studded cast has failed to come to the party with South African ace AB de Villiers and England all-rounder Moeen Ali failing to justify their reputations. Only skipper Kohli has been a consistent figure in the batting department with the others buckling under the pressure.
De Villiers has managed to register two half-centuries so far in the campaign but Mr. 360 has barely done anything of note in his other appearances as frustrations continues to climb for RCB fans.
KXIP fans will nervously be waiting on news regarding Gayle’s availability for the clash following his excellent knock against Mumbai. The team management had stated after the game that the West Indies opener felt a slight twitch in his back and that his fitness needed to be monitored.
Meanwhile, Mayank Agarwal could be set to return after missing out on the Mumbai clash due to a hand injury.
On the other hand, RCB have signed South African pacer Dale Steyn as a replacement for the injured Nathan Coulter-Nile but the veteran will only be available from April 16 onwards.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravi Ashwin (c), Hardus Viljoen, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Marcus Stoinis, Moeen Ali, Akshdeep Nath, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini.
As fans, watching the action is not the only thing to look forward to – IPL fantasy games mean you have the opportunity to get involved as well.
As the IPL’s official partner, Dream11 runs a daily contest for each game apart from the default format which is conducted per round.
Here, we focus on helping you navigate your way through the form.
Kieron Pollard – MI (8.5 credits)
After his matching winning display against Kings XI Punjab, scoring 83 off just 31 balls, Kieron Pollard should be the first name on your team sheet. The West Indies batsman promoted himself up the order on that occasion and even with Rohit Sharma likely to resume as captain this time, he may be tempted to keep Pollard at No4.
Shreyas Gopal – RR (8.5 credits)
Shreyas Gopal has been the leading bowler for Rajasthan this season. With eight wickets at an average of 16.62, the leggie has been remarkably economical, boasting a string of consistent performances.
Hardik Pandya – MI (9.5 credits)
Speaking of consistency, Hardik Pandya seems to have hit his stride. The India all-rounder has been excellent down the order, scoring runs at a quick rate. While he’s been expensive with the ball with an economy of over 10, he has managed to pick up wickets in the process and in fantasy cricket, that’s the telling stat.
Jos Buttler – RR (10.5 credits)
The Rajasthan Royals wicketkeeper-batsman has to be your pick in this game. While he’s lost a little bit of steam, he’s still among the top 10 batsman this season for runs and the opener’s average remains healthy at 33.16. Meanwhile, Quinton de Kock hasn’t impressed at all, picking up a few starts this year without capitalising.
CAPTAIN – Jos Buttler
VICE CAPTAIN – Kieron Pollard
Steyn last played in the IPL in the 2016 edition with the now defunct Gujarat Lions although the pacer made only appearance over the course of that season. The South African ace pulled out of the 2017 edition subsequently after fracturing his shoulder in a series against Australia.
Steyn had put his hat in the IPL auction ring in 2018 and 2019 but went unsold both the times. Now, the 35-year-old is set to return to the franchise he played for between 2008 and 2010 with Coulter-Nile suffering from a stiff back.
The Australia pacer has not featured at all for RCB in the ongoing 2019 edition since returning from international duty with Steyn now set to take his place for the remainder of the season.
The Proteas ace had previously picked up 27 wickets in 28 appearances for Bangalore and he will now hope to revive the flailing fortunes of the franchise in 2019.
Virat Kohli and his men are stuck at the bottom of the league table after tasting defeats in all of their six games so far. Steyn is reportedly set to join the RCB squad on April 16, meaning he will not be available for the side’s upcoming fixtures against Kings XI Punjab on April 13 and against Mumbai Indians two days later.
The South African veteran pacer is expected to be available for Bangalore’s clash against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 19. Overall in the IPL, the pacer has claimed 92 scalps in 90 appearances with an economy-rate of just 6.72.