It is said that you can identify a championship winning team with its momentum, by how it starts a particular tournament. In the last few seasons Kings XI Punjab had been a bridesmaid of sorts, always winning a good lot of matches but never going on to land the telling blow that would take it to the next level. However, in IPL 2014 it has started well and before the encounter against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on April 28, 2014 it had won all its previous matches. On this day too, it was able to continue in the same vein in this game and thus it becomes the only team till now with a 100% success record and thus, an enviable position in the leader board.
Team composition: Bangalore made a couple of changes to the team that lost by 6 wickets to Rajasthan in the last game. They brought back Chris Gayle, for his first match of the tournament, and fast bowler Varun Aaron and left out allrounder Sachin Rana and fast bowler Ravi Rampaul. Punjab retained the same team that won against Kolkata in the previous match.
Batting: Kings XI won the toss and opted to field first. Batting first, the Royal Challengers kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were unable to build up any positive momentum as such. They could only muster 124 for 8 wickets with Yuvraj Singh being the leading scorer with 35 from 32 balls.
Kings XI’s chase was led by the top scorer Virender Sehwag (32 from 26 balls). He received some much needed assistance from David Miller. Down the order, Rishi Dhawan also scored some useful runs to see the side home.
Bowling: KXP and RCB are two sides in the ongoing IPL with extremely strong bowling line-ups and as expected, bowlers from both the sides performed well. First up for Punjab, Sandeep Sharma was the best bowler with 3 for 15 from 3 overs. Mitchell Johnson (2 for 19), Rishi Dhawan (2 for 14), and Lakshmipathy Balaji (1 for 17) were successful as well and together they ensured that the strong batting line up of RCB was unable to make much headway in terms of runs.
The RCB bowlers tried their level best to pick up wickets and bring about a positive result following the debacle against the RR but the paucity of runs meant that it was going to be an uphill task for them. Yuzvendra Chahal was the best bowler with 2 for 23 and received good support from Aaron (2 for 29 in 3.5) and Ashok Dinda (1 for 19 in 3). Mitchell Starc was economical as well.
Where do the teams go from here?
Kings XI Punjab would now be turning out in India where it will look to ensure that its winning momentum continues. However, once it is assured of a place in the playoffs it should aim to give a chance to its other players as well so that all are ready to take the team that closer to the trophy.
Royal Challengers Bangalore has now lost its second match on the trot after batting first, which may not exactly be its forte. But then if you want to be the champions – and this team has the potential to do so – then it is better to deal with such challenges head on. May be, considering how Yuvraj has become an accumulator as opposed to a blaster he could be promoted to open with Gayle and asked to play the role of sheet anchor. The team could also explore its reserve bench options and play Vijay Zol, a talented batsman, or Tanmay Mishra instead of Yogesh Takawale.