It has been a tale of two halves for Kings XI Punjab. Before their one-week break, Ravichandran Ashwin’s team had registered 10 points from seven games (five wins and two losses), but their form has nosedived since then – having secured just one win while suffering three losses. They are still not in the danger zone just yet, but another loss will see them competing with a host of other teams for a place in the play-offs.
So what has gone wrong for the Punjab outfit after that fine start? Firstly, the over reliance on the opening pair of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle has started to raise serious concerns over the depth of not just the middle order, but that of the bench strength as well. Secondly, the bowling – which Ashwin considers the real strength of the team has started to show some cracks as well. Andrew Tye remains a tough customer to beat, but opposition batsmen have now started learning ways of countering the mystery spin of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Captain Ashwin has shone only in patches while Axar Patel, Barinder Sran & Co. have failed to inspire any sort of confidence.
On the other hand, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who still have a mathematical possibility at making it to the play-offs, have headaches of their own. A dominant batting display from Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers helped them stem a two-match losing streak, but one of the most supported franchise haven’t registered back-to-back victories since the 2016 season, where they finished as runners-up. The death bowling has been a constant factor in their dismal run this season and Kohli will be hoping for a change in fortune – if his team were to stay in the hunt for a play-off berth.
Monday night’s match will also be KXIP’s final home game of the season. They will complete their league assignments with tough away games against fellow play-off spot aspirants, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. A win against Kohli’s men will keep them firmly in the race, but a loss will not just push them deeper into the muddle, but they will also be left jostling for that play-off spot with a heap of competitors.
When: May 14, 2018, 08:00 PM IST
Where: Holkar Stadium, Indore
What to expect: After two relatively low-scoring games to start their season, Indore laid out a batting beauty on Saturday with both teams passing 200. The combined total for the game was 459 – the second-most runs in an Indian Premier League(IPL) match. If the wicket stays true to its name, expect yet another high scoring affair between two teams who have some of the most explosive batsmen in the world.
Kings XI: Optional practice sessions are no clues towards determining the final playing XI, but they do give a hint of the way things are expected to move. Lack of middle-order runs has been a huge issue for the hosts and it wasn’t a surprise that Karun Nair, the third leading run-scorer for them this season made the most of the practice session. Ashwin, KL Rahul and Axar Patel were the only other players who played yesterday’s match and attended the optional nets today. Coach, Brad Hodge, spent a lot of time with Manoj Tiwary and Akshdeep Nath, while bowling coach, Venkatesh Prasad, was all ears for young pacer, Ankit Rajpoot. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who endured a difficult day yesterday might make way to David Miller as an extra option in the middle order.
Probable XI: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, David Miller, Manoj Tiwary, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, AJ Tye, Ankit Rajpoot
The Royal Challengers need to keep winning to entertain any hopes of making it to the play-offs and Kohli might reckon that he has found the winning formula finally. They are likely to remain unchanged.
Probable XI: Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh. Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
RCB lost to KXIP by eight wickets in their head-to-head encounter last year at this venue.
Ashwin has not dismissed Kohli in the 15 matches against each other. Kohli has managed to score 132 runs off 100 balls from Ashwin.
Kohli vs spin this IPL: Kohli has got out to spinners six times this season compared to just three against pace. He averages 30.83 against spin, striking at 120.13. In the 72 innings in the five previous seasons, he was dismissed by spinners the same number of times but he averaged 170.33 against spinners.
Umesh Yadav has enjoyed playing against KXIP taking 23 wicket from 15 matches at 17.61 taking three or more wickets in an innings six times against them. He has dismissed Yuvraj four times in 36 balls – more than any other bowler.
KL Rahul vs spin: Rahul has been dismissed by spinners more than anyone else in this season – seven times. He averages 27.85 against spin but strikes at 161.18 against them.
Seven out of the eight IPL games in Indore has been won by the team batting second.
The average scoring rate in Indore this season is 9.48 – the highest at any venue this IPL. A six is hit every 11.77 balls here which is the best among all venues this season (all stats excluding Chennai).
KXIP and RCB are two of the best bowling sides in the first six overs. RCB has taken 20 wickets at 26.40 while KXIP has 19 at 27.37 – sides with most wickets and best average. KXIP concede at 7.88 while RCB’s stands at 8.00, which is only bettered by SRH’s 7.41.
“I would say we have got ourselves into an interesting situation. We still have got enough games to try and get through to the play-offs.” – Ravichandran Ashwin remains as confident as ever about his team’s qualification chances
“Ask the opposition team to get the runs and tell them we are coming after it. That’s what works for our team and it really motivates us.” – Virat Kohli throws open the challenge to the opponents.
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