Must-win situation for Preity Zinta's Punjab
It would be a battle of unequals when tournament laggards Kings XI Punjab take on the formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore in a desperate bid to stay afloat in the Pepsi IPL, in Mohali on Monday.
With IPL-6 approaches the playoff stage, Punjab have managed to win just four out of 10 games so far and they will look to win all of their remaining games.
A loss on Monday will virtually bring the curtains down on Punjab's campaign this season.Against the star-studded RCB, which boasts of the big-hitting Chris Gayle and skipper Virat Kohli, Punjab are once again likely to be without regular skipper Adam Gilchrist.
Image: Preity Zinta, the co-owner of Kings XI Punjab
Bangalore overwhelming favourites
On paper, Bangalore appear to be overwhelming favourites with seven wins in 11 games.
On April 23, Bangalore had posted the highest team score of 263 and Gayle massacred the Pune Warriors bowling for a record 66-ball 175. Punjab would hope that the Jamaican does not click against their bowlers.
But in the days after defeating Pune by 130 runs, Bangalore lost two games in a row and the visitors got back to the winning ways, inflicting yet another defeat on Pune a couple of days back.
RCB have won all their matches at home and also shrugged off the tag of not being able to win the away games by securing a 17-run victory at Pune against Pune Warriors in the last encounter.
In contrast, Punjab, in their previous game, went down to Chennai by 15 runs.
Image: RCB players celebrate
Kohli has been in good touch
Gayle has amassed 500 plus runs and is the leading run-scorer in the tournament and KXIP are well aware of his hard-hitting abilities.
Kohli has also been in good touch and with A B de Villiers up their ranks, Bangalore's batting looks solid against KXIP.
But the visitors' bowling attack is relatively young and experienced pacers -- Vinay Kumar and R P Singh -- have been unable to restrict the opposition batsmen in a few games.
Murali Kartik and Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan lead the spin attack for RCB.
Punjab have shown the stomach for a fight with some close finishes in a few games, but that alone would not be enough against aggressive the RCB.
Image: Virat Kohli
Punjab's bowling has been their strength
Punjab are coming into the game after being outsmarted by Mumbai and Chennai.David Hussey is leading the team in the absence of an under-performing Gilchrist, who dropped himself from the team in the last couple of matches.
Australian Shaun Marsh is a key player in the batting department, who along with Mandeep Singh and David Miller can take on the opposition bowling attack.
Former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood can be dangerous on his day and bowlers like Piyush Chawla and even Praveen Kumar have shown they are no novice with the bat.
Punjab's bowling has been their strength, with Praveen Kumar bowling at a decent economy rate in the shorter version of the game while Parvinder Awana will need to put his best foot forward to contain the Bangalore batters.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (Capt), Mandeep Singh,Luke Pomersbach, David Miller, Manan Vohra, David Hussey,Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh, Bhargav Bhatt,Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bipul Sharma, SiddharthChitnis, Aniket Choudhary, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat SinghMann, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascernhas, Nitin Saini, SandeepSharma, Rajagopal Sathish, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), A BDe Villiers, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle,Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori,Harshal Patel, Jaidev Unadkat, K P Appanna, Karun Nair, MayankAgarwal, Moises Henriques, Murali Kartik, MuttiahMuralitharan, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, R VinayKumar, Ravi Rampaul, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Aravind, SandeepWarrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson, Sunny Sohal, SyedMohammad, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Zaheer Khan.
Image: Piyush Chawla celebrates