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By Yash Mittal

Indian Premier League, 2018

Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab

The Big Picture

The 11th edition of the Indian Premier League has got off to a riveting start with a plethora of matches going down the wire, and it is expected to offer much the same as the tournament moves to the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium for the Royal Challengers Bangalore maiden home game where they take on a confident Kings XI Punjab, who are coming off a dominating first win over Delhi Daredevils and would be hoping to carry their good form to Bangalore.

Royal Challengers, on the other hand, would be looking to put the disappointment of their loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders on the backburner and start afresh in front of their loyal supporters at the Chinnaswamy.

Where: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

When: 13 April 2018, 8:00 PM

Pitch Conditions:

With short boundaries and high altitudes, the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium has proved to be a heaven for the batsman, especially in white-ball cricket. However, with the pitch getting relaid in 2016, the past two seasons have witnessed the track to be sluggish, making stroke-play difficult, reminiscent of the disastrous campaign RCB endured last year.

Statistics over the years:

While over the past decade, the average first innings score has ranged from 156 to 140.62 in 2017, a sharp dip as compared to the 2016 season, where average first innings total was 192. 40.2% of the matches have been won by the team batting first (35) while teams batting second have won 54% of the matches (47), four matches have ended as N/R.

Head-to-Head (Last Five Encounters)

Total- 5

Won by RCB- 2

Won by KXIP- 3

Team Preview and Probable XI

Royal Challengers Bangalore

On the back of a belligerent start by Baz Brendon McCullum (43 off 27 balls), and a superb partnership between AB de Villiers (44 off 23 balls) and Virat Kohli (31 off 33 balls), it seemed that RCB had finally put the ghosts of their dreaded campaign last year to bed, Nitish Rana’s double-wicket break, in which he accounted for Kohli and de Villers in successive balls, the reality came crashing down. While Mandeep Singh played a valiant cameo (37 off 18 balls), RCB’s weakness of a lack of finisher lower down the order was exposed to the hilt.

Despite a run-drought at the back-end of the innings, RCB still had a sizeable target of 177 to defend, but their perennial weakness in bowling was yet again to the fore, as Sunil Narine took their attack to the cleaners with a blistering 50 off just 18 balls. Apart from Umesh Yadav (2-27 in 4 overs), and Chris Woakes, who was pretty expensive despite having picked up three wickets, none of the bowlers could make in-roads as KKR chased down the target with ease. Coming into their second home, RCB will need to strengthen their lower-middle order. Colin de Grandhomme can come in place of Quinton de Kock who did not have a good game with the bat.

Probable XI:

Parthiv Patel (wk), Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Colin De Grandhomme, Washington Sundar, Chris Woakes, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj

Kings XI Punjab

The Kings XI Punjab have been the perennial under-achievers in the IPL. They started well in 2008 where they made it into the top four and then another brilliant one in 2014, where they entered the finals for the very first time under George Bailey’s leadership.

But it seems in 2018, they might just have found the perfect Indian core as well as a leader, who can take their franchise forward. Ravi Chandran Ashwin made his captaincy debut against the Delhi Daredevils and he could not have hoped for a better start, as the KXIP beat DD comprehensively by six wickets.

Ashwin stamped his authority on his side as a leader right from the outset when he dropped veteran Chris Gayle in favor of a 17-year-old Mujibur Rahaman, the youngest player to make his IPL debut. And Rahman did not disappoint, with a plethora of skills at his disposal, Rahaman trumped Munro and Rishabh Pant, to cap off a memorable debut. Aswin tried his hands at leg-spin and was pretty economical giving away just 23 in 4 overs, to go along with the wicket of Tewatia.

But it was KL Rahul who stole the show with a belligerent 51 off just 16 balls (fastest fifty in IPL history, 13 balls), and he along with Karun Nair (50 off 33 balls) led Punjab to a comprehensive six-wicket win. While Yuvraj Singh’s form may be a cause of concern for the Kings, Aaron Finch’s inclusion, who missed the first game due to his wedding, will certainly bolster their batting lineup.

Probable XI:

Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (WK),  Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin (C), Mohit Sharma, Mohit Sharma,  Andrew Tye

Yash Mittal

A cricket lover waiting for the next Indian cricket triumph!