It’s been a mixed start for the Royal Challengers Bangalore who travel to Indore for their third game of the 2017 Indian Premier League as they take on the Kings XI Punjab on Monday night. Suneer Chowdhary gives you a quick run down of what you can expect from this encounter. Read on or listen to him on the link below:
The Kings XI Punjab made a winning start to their campaign with what turned out to be a well-compiled victory over Rising Pune Supergiant, while Bangalore went down to the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opener before clawing back from the jaws of defeat to edge out the Delhi Daredevils in their second game.
Speaking of Punjab first, and I must say I was surprised to see Shaun Marsh benched for their opener. Not only has he been in India for some time now with the Australian team during the Tests but he also holds a good record in the IPL, having played in 62 games and scoring 2213 runs at almost 41, with a very doable strike-rate of 132. Even Steven Smith doesn’t boast of such figures in this format.
Hashim Amla was picked ahead of him and he got himself that middling 27-ball 28 which could give him another go or two. The other surprise was the promotion of Axar Patel to number in what could have been a bid for a left-handed batsman to try and ruffle up the Pune leg-spinners but when you have Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the line-up, you obviously want to give them as much time at the crease as possible.
It was also interesting to see Marcus Stoinis get a nod ahead of Eoin Morgan, presumably because he provides a bowling option and has shown good recent form with the bat. His wicket of Steven Smith should have helped keep his captain’s faith in him – who also plays for the same state side in the Sheffield Shield, Victoria.
Bangalore’s loss in their opener was down to their playing combination. I thought they had gone in with a defensive combination of trying to rely on too many bit and pieces cricketers, which is what they tried to rectify by bringing in a frontline bowler in Billy Stanlake in place of Travis Head. There were sea of other changes as well, as Sachin Baby, Sreenath Aravind and Aniket Chaudhary all got a boot, and Vishnu Vinod, Pawan Negi and Iqbal Abdulla got the nod.
At the end of the first game, I had suggested that Bangalore could bring in an extra bowler but my eyes were on Samuel Badree. Stanlake, admittedly, did a good job too, and Abdulla and Negi picked up four wickets between them to guide the side to a win.
Bangalore, in the previous seasons, is used to winning games in classy fashions – batsmen pile on the runs and the bowlers choke the opposition on the basis of those many runs in the bank or there’s an obvious chase led by one or more of Kohli, de Villiers and Gayle. Their win against Delhi was a scrappy win, in which they didn’t have the runs from those three stalwarts and needed their stand-in captain Shane Watson to rack his brains and the bowlers to deliver for him in what turned out to be a close encounter. It’s a kind of win you would feel extremely chuffed about given the circumstances.
What’s interesting to see is that despite Kings XI Punjab’s poor record in the IPL, they hold a head to head advantage against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, having won 10 of their 18 encounters. Punjab will also be playing their second successive game on the Indore pitch, so they should have a lot more idea about it, however, unlike the previous match this will be played under lights. Could afford some more life for the speedsters and the ball might come on a lot better.
As far as the team combination for this game is concerned, Punjab were happy to play two greenhorns in Swapnil Singh and T Natarajan in their bowling and stack up their batting with overseas players – and that was not a very big surprise given the only overseas bowler of note they have anyway is Matt Henry. Don’t expect too many changes although, as I said earlier, I would prefer Marsh over Amla. There’s Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron waiting in the ranks as well.
For Bangalore, their bowling attack for the Delhi looked a lot more solid but that considerably weakens their batting – Stuart Binny is at least one spot higher at five, and with Vishnu Vinod and Pawan Negi to follow at six and seven, an early loss of wickets could mean a struggle. What that does is to put a lot of pressure on Gayle and Watson to fire at the top of the order, something they didn’t do against Delhi.
As far as prediction is concerned, Shruti Chopra has this to say – quite a close one to call as Bangalore seem to have a good start with the bat and then possibly wither away, whereas Punjab won’t have the best start with the bat but they will manage to stabilise themselves. She says she’s going with the team that should display better overall balance, so its’ advantage: Kings XI Punjab.