The Royal Challengers Bangalore will want to ride on the winning momentum when they host the Kings XI Punjab at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday. Having won their last two matches to move right back into contention for a playoff place, RCB will know the importance of keeping that winning feeling going.
Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers have been the catalysts to RCB's resurgence, with Chris Gayle's welcome return to form making them even more formidable. KXIP have nothing to play for, having been knocked out of contention for a place in the final four, but that should not stop them from wanting to put on a show in one of the best batting pitches in the tournament.
Here is a prediction of how RCB vs KXIP could go.
If RCB bat first: Not too worried with losing the toss, Gayle and Kohli go slam-bang from the off, with Gayle sprinting (not literally) to his first half century off IPL 2016. That brilliant opening sets the game up brilliantly for AB De Villiers, who makes light of the quick wickets of Gayle and Kohli, and in the company of Shane Watson, the superstar take RCB to 195.
With two conventional batsmen in Murali Vijay and Hashim Amla opening the innings, the RCB opening bowlers let their guards down a little, allowing the two openers to hit boundary after boundary to pile on 65 runs from the Powerplay overs without the loss of a wicket. Kohli gives Yuzvendra Chahal the ball, and the legspinner draws Amla out in the first over to get him stumped, before Wriddhiman Saha goes in the next over to leave Kings XI in a bit of a bother. With no Glenn Maxwell or Marcus Stoinis, the onus is on David Miller to produce, and while the left-hander shows signs of his former self, even triggering memories of that unbelievable hundred against the same opposition in IPL 2013, Shane Watson picks up the vital wicket to nip the KXIP chase in the bud, with Chris Jordan doing the death over duties well with his Australian teammate.
If KXIP bat first: Vijay and Amla are unable to put on a solid opening partnership, as the skipper falls in the third over, but Amla, after a fabulous 96 against SRH, is in the mood again, gliding boundaries at will to set the perfect base for a big total. Amla falls for a 42-ball 61, but Miller and Gurkeerat Singh put on a nice partnership, before Farhaan Behardien comes in and scores a quickfire 31 to take KXIP to 183.
The fact that RCB are only chasing a par score does not stop Gayle from going six-crazy, and while the left-hander falls for a quick 37, Kohli is there to act as the anchor again. De Villiers scores 27 and goes – there is no ridiculous partnership this time – with Watson also falling fairly quickly for 14. However, with Kohli in the middle and a solid KL Rahul at the other end, RCB stay on course, before the skipper kicks into top gear to drive the home team to victory in the penultimate over.