One way or the other, it is sure to thunder down at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday. The forecast suggests that it will rain in Bangalore during the game. If it doesn’t, then the batting heavy line-ups of Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore sure will. Especially with the current talk of IPL town, Punjab’s Glenn Maxwell, and the greatest IPL batsman of all time, Bangalore’s Chris Gayle, teeing off in the same arena.
While Gayle has played only three games this season and is yet to blaze the stage as he is prone to do (he is yet to hit a fifty), the good news for RCB is that he has progressed arithmetically with scores of 20, 27 and 38 so far. A big score from his big blade could be just what mid-tablers Bangalore need to resurrect what has so far been a mediocre season.
Maxwell, on the other hand, has been in the purplest patch of his career with three nineties and an 89 — a patch that reminds his team-mate Virender Sehwag of book cricket. “The kind of form he is in, it is extremely difficult to stop him. Nothing matters to him — the bowlers or the fielders or the boundary. I felt like he was opening the pages of a book and every time the number was either four or six. It has been great to watch him bat,” said Sehwag.
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Sehwag was even generous enough to say that Maxwell was hitting the ball better than he ever did in his prime. “I was not that destructive. I was a bit, but not that much,” Sehwag added on IPL’s official website. He then went on the praise the other destructive batsman in the Punjab unit, David Miller, lavishly as well. “Maxwell and Miller. If the two of them get going, it becomes very difficult for the bowling side because if one misses a ball, the other makes up for it with a six.”
This form, of course, is not good news for the bowlers. When Maxwell made 90 off just 38 balls against Mumbai in his previous match, no bowler went for less than 9 an over. But Bangalore will take heart from the fact that the last time they were up against Maxwell, Virat Kohli’s side managed to stop the Aussie in single digits — this after the man had hit 95, 89 and 95 in his previous three matches.
Bangalore will also take heart from the bowling form that young leggie Yuzvendra Chahal has managed to surprise the world with in this season. Apart from just one match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chahal has struck each of the remaining six to sit pretty with eight scalps. And his economy rate is an incredible 5.96 runs/over. Yet, he isn’t the best RCB bowler wicket-wise. Tearaway bowler Varun Aaron, with 11 wickets, is. Punjab boast of a core-group of wicket-takers as well. Just five bowlers (Sandeep Sharma, Laxipathy Balaji, Mitchell Johnson, Rishi Dhawan and Akshar Patel) have taken 41 out of Punjab’s 45 wickets this season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), Rilee Rossouw, Tanmay Mishra, Vijay Zol, Albie Morkel, Chris Gayle, Sachin Rana, Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Yogesh Takawale, Abu Nechim, Ashok Dinda, Harshal Patel, Mitchell Starc, Muttiah Muralidaran, Ravi Rampaul, Sandeep Warrier, Shadab Jakati, Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal
Kings XI Punjab:
George Bailey (C), Cheteshwar Pujara, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, Virender Sehwag, Akshar Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Karanveer Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Shivam Sharma, Thisara Perera, Wriddhiman Saha, Anureet Singh, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Mitchell Johnson, Murali Kartik, Parvinder Awana, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur