Two teams with completely contrasting forms but an equal desperation for victory will clash in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) when Royal Challengers Bangalore play host to Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday.
While Bangalore remain rooted to bottom spot with three wins in nine clashes so far, KXIP find themselves just out of the play-off places with 10 points from as many games.
GAYLE RETURNS TO OLD STOMPING GROUND
The meeting between the two sides will see Chris Gayle return to his old stomping ground at the Chinnaswamy Stadium where he spent seven IPL seasons with the Bengaluru franchise.
The passionate RCB fans will know what to expect from the explosive left-handed opener who registered as many as five IPL tons during his stint with the outfit. Despite his contributions, Gayle was ignored by RCB in the 2018 auction and nearly went unsold before he was picked up by Kings XI.
The veteran Jamaican has been in sensational form for KXIP this campaign where he is averaging nearly 53 with the bat while maintaining a strike-rate of almost 160.
Gayle will have a point to prove once again to his former employers against whom he has already struck an unbeaten 64-ball 99 in the reverse fixture at Mohali two weeks ago.
MOMENTUM WITH RCB
While all eyes will be on Gayle’s return to the Chinnaswamy, the hosts will be quietly confident of achieving a positive result following their resurgence of late. After losing six matches on the trot, Virat Kohli and his men have turned things around recently with three victories in their last four outings.
The latest of those wins was a dramatic one against Chennai Super Kings where they withstood a sensational MS Dhoni assault to grab a one-run win.
The arrival of Dale Steyn as a replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile has proved to be crucial with the South African pacer giving the side roaring starts with the ball against both CSK and Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Bangalore outfit are still up against it when it comes to play-off qualification but another victory on Wednesday could see them bounce right back into contention.
In all the excitement about the new young Indian players, two people were ignored in the last IPL auction. One made it as an afterthought, the other was an injury replacement. Chris Gayle and Dayle Steyn are now showing us the folly of ignoring proven class for shiny new promise.— Joy Bhattacharjya (@joybhattacharj) April 22, 2019
KXIP IN DANGER OF REPEATING 2018 HORROR SHOW
While RCB might have started to turn things around, the same cannot be said for KXIP who are currently on a downward spiral. Ravichandran Ashwin and his men were excellent in the first-half of the campaign but the wheels have started to come off lately with just one victory to show for in their last four matches.
The three recent defeats have seen the franchise drop out of the top-four places and another one of them on Wednesday could be a big blow to their play-off ambitions given how tight the race is turning out to be.
KXIP will be desperate to avoid a repeat of their 2018 campaign where they started the season on fire before enduring a disastrous second-half which saw them ultimately finish seventh in the table.
Kings XI mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman missed the recent clash against Delhi Capitals with an injury and he is likely to remain sidelined once again with no updates yet on his fitness.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Akshdeep Nath, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Pawan Negi, Dale Steyn, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Harpreet Brar, Ravi Ashwin (c), Hardus Viljoen, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami.
The final of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign will now be held in Hyderabad instead of Chennai after the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) failed to resolve the issue of the three empty stands.
While the final will now be held at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad on May 12, the Eliminator and second Qualifier clashes will now take place at Visakhapatnam. The Chepauk stadium in Chennai, meanwhile, will play host to the first Qualifier on May 7.
With Chennai Super Kings being the defending champions of the IPL, the Chepauk stadium had been earlier given the rights to host the final. However, three stands at the Chennai stadium have remained closed for spectators since 2012 after the TNCA failed to get the required fit certificate from the municipal corporation.
Following complaints from broadcasters, the BCCI and its Committee of Administration (CoA) had given Chennai Super Kings and TNCA one week to sort of the issue after a meeting of the IPL governing council in Delhi.
The final of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on May 12. Chennai will host Qualifier 1 while Visakhapatnam will host the Eliminator and Qualifier 2. #IPL pic.twitter.com/i9S9LoiLEN— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2019
With the Chepauk authorities failing to get the requisite permission in time, it was Hyderabad which was declared as the final’s venue due to the Sunrisers finishing as the runners-up in 2018.
According to a report by ESPNcricinfo, the BCCI preferred Mumbai and Bengaluru as the venues for the playoffs but had to opt for Visakhapatnam due to a paucity of time as well as the fact that India’s general elections are currently ongoing.
PLAY-OFFS AND FINAL SCHEDULE
May 7, Tuesday
Qualifier 1 – Chennai
May 8, Wednesday
Eliminator – Visakhapatnam
May 10, Friday
Qualifier 2 – Visakhapatnam
May 12, Sunday
Final – Hyderabad
Delhi Capitals climbed to the top of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) table after seeing off Rajasthan Royals in a closely fought contest at Jaipur on Monday.
Shreyas Iyer’s men chased down a challenging total of 191 runs thanks to an inspirational performance from Rishabh Pant who scored a quick-fire 78 off just 36 balls.
Rajasthan captain Steve Smith was unhappy with how his team batted in the death and felt that his middle-order batsmen could have added some more crucial runs on the board.
The Australian spoke in admiration of Pant, who practically stole the game from under their noses.
“We thought we didn’t finish off well with the bat, they pulled things back with (Kagiso) Rabada in the death overs. We couldn’t quite get hold of their bowlers. The wicket played well throughout, one of the best in the tournament,” said Smith.
“They took our bowlers on in the powerplay and Shikhar (Dhawan) played a magnificent knock. Pant is a young lad and he did a terrific job as well.
“It’s always hard for the bowlers with the dew around. The wicket stayed the same throughout the 40 overs. You can try and get wickets with your best bowlers or keep them for the death overs. Delhi did that well with Rabada but for us (Jofra) Archer has bowled well for us throughout the tournament.”
Delhi’s young captain Iyer was delighted with the positive team atmosphere following a run of five wins in their last six matches and was full of praise for Pant staying unbeaten until the very end to finish the job.
“We are happy with our team is going. The positivity is spreading in the camp. We knew Royals are going to go all-out. Wicket was a belter and the way they started we thought they will score 200. (Ajinkya) Rahane batted brilliantly. Our bowlers contained well to restrict Royals,” Iyer explained.
“Ricky (Ponting) tells us that batsman who get starts should bat for a long time. Rishabh took that initiative and batted till the end. In the previous match, I was there till the end and Shikhar (Dhawan) did it too in one match,” he added.
Man-of-the-match Pant was delighted to have helped his team climb to the top of the table with what was only his second fifty of the 2019 IPL campaign.
“I am feeling lovely. To make your team win in an important match is a good feeling. I won’t lie, the (India World Cup squad) selection thought was running in my mind,” a visibly delighted Pant remarked.
“I focused on my process, I trusted my prowess and it worked for me. I knew how wicket was behaving and I took advantage of that. The most important things for our team is that everyone needs their role and we try to keep it simple.”