Virat Kohli, after scoring a magnificent century to guide RCB past RPS in a crucial IPL 2016 game, revealed Chris Gayle had been dropped and not rested, with Travis Head chosen ahead of the big-hitting West Indian. So, the big question is if Gayle will come back into the team when the Royal Challengers Bangalore travel to Mohali to face Kings XI Punjab in another must-win clash.
Gayle has failed to fire with the bat since a brilliant hundred for the West Indies in a pool match against England in the World T20, and with the West Indian also flying back to Jamaican during IPL 2016 to be with his newborn baby, that rhythm has not quite returned.
RCB's do not seem to have a problem with their batting either, with or without Gayle, with KL Rahul doing quite well at the top of the order alongside Kohli, while they have enough backup to come in the shape of AB De Villiers and Shane Watson. With Gayle not exactly the best mover in the field either – and Kohli is big on that – it looks like Head might remain in the playing XI for this match against KXIP.
Another surprising exclusion in recent times has been that of Sarfaraz Khan, who despite playing a couple of brilliant knocks, has found himself on the bench. Kohli has preferred Sachin Baby over Sarfaraz, owing largely to the fact that the former is a much better fielder. With that fielding issue unlikely to change in one match, Sarfaraz is likely to stay on the bench for this game.
However, Sachin Baby might find himself out of the lineup, if Kohli feels the need to bring in Kedar Jadhav to keep wickets – not that he is exactly the most natural of wicketkeepers either -- after Rahul missed a couple of crucial chances in the last couple of matches.
Chris Jordan did not have the greatest of IPL debuts, going for plenty of runs, with those death over specialities not quite coming to the fore either. With the Mohali pitch working out well for the slower bowlers this season, there might be a case for Tabraiz Shamsi to return to the playing XI at the expense of the Englishman, but then, Kohli might also think it is unfair to judge Jordan's performance based on one match.
Parvez Rasool was not too impressive with the ball in the last match, so Iqbal Abdulla could come in his place.
Kings XI are also upbeat after finding their death bowling chops to beat the Delhi Daredevils on Saturday. Seemingly in control of the chase, DD suddenly ran into some outstanding bowling from KXIP, which helped the Punjab franchise get over the line and stay in the hunt for a playoff place.
Considering the win was a solid all-round performance – KXIP made 181, batting first, against the Delhi Daredevils – Kings XI Punjab are likely to stick with the same playing XI, with Hashim Amla, in particular, desperate to make an impact.
Expected playing XI: Kings XI Punjab: Murali Vijay (C), Marcus Stoinis, Hashim Amla, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Axar Patel, Gurkeerat Singh, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, KC Cariappa.
RCB: KL Rahul (WK), Virat Kohli (C), AB De Villiers, Shane Watson, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Chris Jordan, Iqbal Abdulla, Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal.