IPL 2021: Punjab Kings face tough RCB test

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 29, 2021
AB de Villiers is in superb form with the bat. (BCCI)

Virat Kohli's team have won five of their six matches this season

The form displayed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore this season will make Punjab Kings, their next opponents, wary.

Virat Kohli’s team have won five of their six matches, and are currently occupying the second spot on the points table. Equal with leaders CSK on points, the RCB are only behind on net run rate, which they will look to improve on Friday night.

Punjab, on the other hand, have won just two of their six matches, and at least one of them – against Rajasthan Royals --- was fortuitous as Sanju Samson’s bid to clinch the issue with a last-ball six failed by just a metre in a high-scoring thriller.

What’s working for RCB is all those areas where Punjab have been found wanting: attacking and consistent batting which enables to post or chase down high scores, penetrative and controlled bowling, especially in the death overs.

KL Rahul has been in excellent touch for Punjab, but he’s just about the only batsman to show any consistency. Mayank Agarwal has only played a couple of useful knock.

Their West Indian stars Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, especially, have not delivered.

There is no batsman who has made the kind of impact the brilliant AB de Villiers and even Glenn Maxwell have made for RCB.

Punjab’s bowling too has not been very impressive. Ravi Bishnoi, a late inclusion, has done well along with Mohammed Shami, but they have not really found good support from the others. The young Arshdeep Singh has impressed in spells, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan, Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith have been ineffective.

For RCB, young Kiwi all-rounder Kyle Jamieson has adjusted to the Indian conditions quickly, unlike Richardson and Meredith.

The best bowlers, however, have been Harshal Patel, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, and Mohammed Siraj, perhaps the most improved fast bowler in India today.

The one area where RCB will be looking for improvement is in the performance of spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. Both have perked up in control after leaking runs in the first few matches, but are still finding wickets hard to come by.

Overall, RCB have been showing more confidence, chutzpah, aggression. The desire to win is palpable. Punjab don’t lack talent, but seem to lack conviction, which is often the difference between victory and defeat.

That is the hurdle they have to overcome to win this match.

Friday's match

Punjab vs RCB

6pm UAE Time

Players to watch out for:

RCB: AB de Villiers, Mohammed Siraj, Devdutt Padikkal

PBKS: KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi

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