Indian Premier League: Mid-table Royal Challengers bank on home record

BANGALORE: With three wins in seven games, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have plenty of catching up to do. After their defeat to Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, captain Virat Kohli said they needed to win at least five of their next seven to qualify for the playoffs. The good news is RCB are playing their next three games in Bangalore, where they have a strong record. The potential bad news? The weather. Rains have hit the city over the last couple of days and if the evening rain continues, there could be a truncated game.
RCB were set to chase more than they should have against Mumbai, due to the number of extras (25, including 12 wides). Having been set 188, they took the challenge to Mumbai at 94 for 1 near the halfway stage, but their second block of ten overs did not pan out so well. AB de Villiers was not as fortunate with the ramp shot like in the other night against Dale Steyn, and following his departure and Kohli’s in quick succession, the fight was all but over. Back on home turf, however, RCB can be a handful. That is if the weather cooperates.
Kings XI Punjab went back to the top of the table after blanking out Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Wednesday by posting 231. While their batsmen have hogged the attention, their coach Sanjay Bangar gave due credit to the bowlers, pointing to the number of times they had taken ten wickets. Kings XI have achieved this twice and in their last game against RCB, they claimed eight. It is hard at this point to pick holes on Kings XI. The only thing that could bring them down is complacency.
Watch out for: Gayle v Maxwell - When the teams last met in Dubai, the same contest was a dud. Both players didn’t last longer than seven balls each. But both have shown that the size of the ground hardly matters, and at the Chinnsawamy, even spectators at the highest tier can’t afford to nod off. Gayle has shown a weakness against swing with the new ball. Maxwell ripped into CSK’s spinners so RCB may look to test him with pace. Yuvraj Singh has had only one match-winning knock in seven games and his price tag is still weighing on him. Against Mumbai, RCB’s hopes rested on him after de Villiers and Kohli departed, but he could only manage 6 off 10 balls. But RCB have kept their faith in him, knowing how he has shrugged off criticism with career-defining knocks in the past. But will they be willing to extend the rope?

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Aaj Kal