The Kings XI Punjab have not had the greatest of runs in the last few games, having won just one game out of their last four encounters. With the race for a spot in the playoffs tightening with every passing day, the Ravi Ashwin-led side will certainly feel the heat when they face off against hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore on the 24th of April at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
That the Kings XI have won just a solitary game from their five away games will certainly pile the pressure on them on a day when the return of Chris Gayle, arguably one of RCB's best openers in the history of the IPL will be the matter in focus.
Along with Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal will also be banked on to produce a match-winning knock on a ground that they grew up honing their skills on. However, against an RCB side that will be high on confidence with two wins in a row, the task at hand will certainly test the Punjab outfit's fortitude.
Here is how the Kings XI Punjab side could line up for the encounter.
Chris Gayle will be returning to a ground that has fetched him a mountain of runs and with the short boundaries coming into play, the big Jamaican can be expected to create some serious fireworks at the top of the order.
KL Rahul's top show this season has been one of the biggest success stories for KXIP and with the stylish opener having learnt the trade at the same stadium, Rahul's contribution could prove to be a vital one.
Mayank Agarwal seems to have a lean patch with just 43 runs from the last three games and the 'homecoming' match-up against RCB could certainly do his form a world of good.
David Miller has not had the best of seasons thus far but has essayed his role as an aggressor to perfection. With a number of seasoned big-hitters waiting in the wings, Miller would want to prove his credentials and the strip at Bengaluru could well play to his liking.
Mandeep Singh has stroked his way around to crucial contributions in this edition of the IPL and at an average of 41.67 and a strike rate of 138.89, has made a strong case for himself as a finisher. Against RCB, the Punjab-lad will be backed to play the same role.
Ravichandran Ashwin has led the way on the bowling front with 11 wickets from 10 matches and will hold the key to restrict the batsmen in the middle overs. While he has excelled with the ball, Ashwin has also played some key knocks with the bat that could give the Kings XI some impetus as well.
Sam Curran has been in and out of the side but could see himself retain his place and make the most of the seaming conditions at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Curran has been on the expensive side of things and will need to produce a special performance against RCB.
Arshdeep Singh could make his way back into the side at the expense of young Harpreet Brar to add a little more strength to the pace bowling attack. Arshdeep did well to mix up his stock ball and cutters during his debut against Rajasthan which could come to good use in Bengaluru.
Hardus Viljoen has six wickets to his credit but has leaked runs in his spells. Hitting the deck hard, Viljoen has found it hard to settle on a length but his pace has often troubled the best of batsmen. With the strip at Bengaluru bound to assist seamers, Viljoen could play a key role.
Mohammed Shami has been the pick of the Kings XI bowlers and has bowled with precision all through the season. Operating in the powerplay and in the death overs, Shami's pace has manifested into his biggest weapon that has fetched him 13 wickets from 10 games. With form on his side, Shami could prove to be the 'X-factor' for KXIP.
Murugan Ashwin's economy rate of just 6.43 is a testament to the quality of bowling that the tweaker has displayed this season. While he has been unlucky to pick up just three wickets from six games, M Ashwin's ability to put a lid on a scoring rate could apply some serious pressure on the hosts.
Probable playing XI: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, Mohammed Shami, Murugan Ashwin.
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