Glenn Maxwell, the Kings XI Punjab skipper, led from the front in his team’s first game of the Indian Premier League 2017 to help defeat Rising Pune Supergiant by six wickets, and will hope to continue in the same vein when they lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday (April 10) away in Indore.
Punjab’s bowling, devoid of big names, looked an efficient unit that managed to contain Pune’s star-studded batting lineup to 163 for 6. Mohit Sharma seemed like the only weak link but one match might be too few to consider leaving him out in favour of, say, Ishant Sharma.
But the batting, which is Punjab’s main reason for hope, will not have raised expectations of the team management after being reduced to 85 for 4 in a chase of 164 before Maxwell and David Miller forged a match-winning alliance. They will look to make amends in the top-order, which seemed a tad frail especially against Imran Tahir’s legspin. Yuzvendra Chahal, Bangalore’s young leggie, has been in good form and might pose a threat.
It will be interesting to see whether Hashim Amla, who scored a steadying 27-ball 28, retains his spot, with Punjab having the likes of Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh and Eoin Morgan, all of whom are capable of scoring briskly.
In the absence of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and KL Rahul, Bangalore’s batting has lacked the bite. While they managed to eke out a win despite scoring a modest 157 for 8 against Delhi Daredevils, they will be aware that Punjab have the firepower to chase that and a few more.
Rahul has been ruled out for the season, while there’s still no definite word on Kohli or de Villiers returning right away. Of course, there’s no word that one or both of them won’t come back for the Punjab game either. Bangalore will hope for Chris Gayle to fire big to offset their possible absence. Gayle, meanwhile, is just 25 runs away from becoming the first to 10,000 Twenty20 runs – that should serve to motivate the big man at the top of the Bangalore order.
Kedar Jadhav shone brightest for Bangalore against Delhi. His explosive 37-ball 69 was laced with five sixes and as many fours, which ultimately helped Bangalore get to a winning total. Jadhav has been in good touch across formats in recent times, and might be the man to keep the flag flying for Bangalore while the bigger names recover.
Chahal has bowled well in both games so far. Even in the defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament opener, when the defending champions posted an imposing 207 for 4, Chahal conceded just 22 in his four overs. He bettered that against Delhi, giving away 19 in as many overs.
The pace attack headed by Tymal Mills looks well-rounded. Billy Stanlake’s pace and unusual bounce may pose troubles for Punjab, like it did for the Delhi batsmen. Shane Watson, the interim captain, looked rusty with the ball in the first game, but bowled well in the second, in the death especially. The onus will be on him to lead from the front with both bat and ball and inspire confidence in the others.
Historically, Punjab have had a slight upper hand over Bangalore, winning ten of the 18 games they have faced, but Bangalore have won three of the last four encounters – they will hope to continue that trend, with or without Kohli and de Villiers.
Played 18. Punjab 10, Bangalore 8.
This will be the first time that these two sides meet at Holkar Cricket Stadium.
Source: Wisden India