IPL 2021: RCB to target fragile Punjab Kings hitters – News
The Punjab Kings – brilliant one day, mediocre the next – have been unable to maintain their form for long periods of time
The Punjab Kings rekindled their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs with a thrilling victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders. The match ended in the final, which again raised questions about the Punjab’s ability to handle the pressure. But this time the Kings managed to cross the line.
The Punjab Kings – brilliant one day, mediocre the next – have been unable to maintain their form for long periods of time. They often lacked confidence in their hitter who relied heavily on KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.
It hasn’t changed. Against KKR as well, Rahul and Agarwal set up the chase superbly to see the beat stutter. Rahul, realizing his team’s shortcomings, avoided the risk after Agarwal’s sacking and was there virtually until the end, guiding his team into a winning position.
Shahrukh Khan’s pyrotechnics allowed Punjab to increase the strike rate when needed and win the match in the final match, but it happened against a backdrop of high tension.
If KKR had taken the risks they faced, the story of the night might well have been different.
All of this suggests that the PBKS are still vulnerable in the batting department. Their lack of confidence in handling the tense situation is an area the Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to exploit on Sunday.
Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal showed excellent wicket-taking form. Mohammed Siraj was trying and thrifty even though he did not have enough victims in the pot.
Getting Rahul or Agarwal – preferably both – early would be the task Virat Kohli will assign to his bowlers. This would expose the fragile Intermediate Order, further weakened by the departure of Chris Gayle due to bubble fatigue.
Aiden Markram has shown some consistency, but the Punjab is desperate for leads from Nicholas Pooran and Deepak Hooda to post winning scores.
RCB’s batting performance is not as lopsided as that of the Punjab Kings.
Devdutt Padikkal, Kohli and Glenn Maxwell have all scored consistently.
The key to their progress from here would be the form of AB de Villiers. Arguably the best batsman in the T20 format, De Villiers has been surprisingly lukewarm so far.
The law of averages suggests that a big hit of his bat is around the corner. Counteracting it will be the challenge of Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and Ravi Bishnoi who have served the Punjab excellently so far.
For RCB, a win would almost certainly send them to the playoffs and also offer a chance to get into the top 2 on the points table.
For the Punjab, it’s do or die on Sunday.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator