IPL 2021: RCB will target Punjab Kings' fragile batting

Yuzvendra Chahal (right) has shown excellent wicket-taking form. (BCCI)
Yuzvendra Chahal (right) has shown excellent wicket-taking form. (BCCI)

Mumbai - Punjab Kings — brilliant one day, mediocre the next — have been unable to sustain form over long periods

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Sun 3 Oct 2021, 12:31 AM

Punjab Kings revived their hopes of making it to the playoffs with a thrilling victory over Kolkata Knight Riders. The match went into the final over, which again raised questions about Punjab’s capacity to handle pressure. But this time the Kings managed to get over the line.

Punjab Kings — brilliant one day, mediocre the next — have been unable to sustain form over long periods. They have often lacked belief in their batting which has depended heavily on KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.

That hasn’t changed. Against KKR too, Rahul and Agarwal set up the run chase superbly only to see the batting stutter. Rahul, realising the shortcomings of his team, eschewed risk after Agarwal’s dismissal and was there virtually till the end, shepherding his team into a winning position.

The big-hitting Shahrukh Khan’s pyrotechnics enabled Punjab to step up the strike rate when needed and win the match in the last over, but this came amid high tension.

Had KKR taken the chances that came their way, the story of the night could well have been different.

All this suggests that PBKS are still vulnerable in the batting department. Their lack of confidence in dealing with the tight situation is one area the Royal Challengers Bangalore will aim to exploit on Sunday.

Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal have shown excellent wicket-taking form. Mohammed Siraj has been testing and economical even if he does not have enough victims in the kitty.

Getting Rahul or Agarwal – preferably both – early would be the task Virat Kohli will assign to his bowlers. This would expose the fragile middle order, weakened further by Chris Gayle’s departure due to bubble fatigue.

Aiden Markram has shown some consistency, but Punjab are desperately seeking runs from Nicholas Pooran and Deepak Hooda to post match-winning scores.

RCB’s batting performance is not as lop-sided as Punjab Kings’.

Devdutt Padikkal, Kohli and Glenn Maxwell have all been scoring consistently.

Key to their progress from here would be the form of AB de Villiers. Arguably the best batsman in the T20 format, De Villiers has been surprisingly tepid so far.

The law of averages suggests a big knock from his bat is around the corner. To stymie him will be the challenge for Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and Ravi Bishnoi who have served Punjab excellently so far.

For RCB, a win would almost certainly send them into the playoffs and also offer a chance to get into the top 2 in the points table.

For Punjab, it is do or die on Sunday.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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