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.
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