“AB doesn’t like me saying this, but he hasn’t played competitive cricket for 5 months, but if you look at him bat it doesn’t feel like he doesn’t play international cricket anymore. Hats off to him, keeps doing it again and again for us. I’ll say this again: he hasn’t played for five months, just watch that inning,” chuckled the RCB skipper Virat Kohli, appraising the legendary batsman after his side edged over the Delhi Capitals by the smallest possible margin of victory in terms of runs.
Such has been the genius of AB de Villiers, whose was the only knock of substance when each one around him found the going tough. RCB looked at sea during their 69-run hammering against the Chennai Super Kings, but came back with an edge-of-the-seat one-run victory and prove that a one-time failure, largely thanks to one man who ensured they don’t fall behind in the cat-mouse fight for the top spot with CSK. A howling five defeats from six games. A start that perhaps even the team would not have expected.
RCB has somehow managed to plug all the gaps this year. While trolls took them to task for roping in Glenn Maxwell, the joke is on them given the way he has performed. Only six games into the season, Harshal Patel leads the race of Purple Cap by a distance that will take some doing to match. Their beloved ABD has always been to their rescue. He aced the sluggish Chepauk surfaces when everyone else was stuck, and on slightly better surfaces in Ahmedabad, his 42-ball 75 was for all to see. Guilty of lack of discipline, inability at death, Mohammed Siraj has started defending runs in pressure situations like he did last game.
Not much of all this is true for their rivals on Friday, the Punjab Kings, whose performance graph continues to resemble a sine wave. They continue to swing between extremes, with scores ranging from a high of 220 to a low of 106. But that is only one reason why they have merely two wins from the first six games. Having been unable to strike the right team combination and delivery of performances consistently, they have shone in phases but never long enough to dominate games.
The Kings snapped a string of defeats through a nine-wicket win over the five-time champions Mumbai Indians to leave Chennai on a high. But if that win boosted morale, succumbing to a five-wicket loss in a convincing defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders crushed it soon after. Slow starts, crumbling middle-order, and unimposing bowling – keeping aside a couple of performers – have combined to keep Punjab Kings hanging in the more familiar part of the table: the bottom four.
With the kind of intent they showed in the previous game, even thoughts of overcoming the RCB challenge will be ludicrous. They continue to be the most unpredictable; a team that wins on the back of single-handed deliverance than wholesome performances. Question is, when would they come out of the cocoon of individual brilliance and start firing in unity?
Pitch and conditions
Batting has not been the easiest in Ahmedabad, unless you are AB de Villiers. Kings struggled badly to find momentum against KKR at the venue, while even the latter’s chase was not the most fluent of chases.
An unexpected sandstorm spoilt Rishabh Pant’s plan against RCB to chase as it wiped the dew. Given the batters do not have the flattest track to exploit, knowing the target and praying for dew to play a part is the best way forward.
Playing combinations for PBKS vs RCB
Any change seems unlikely unless they opt to make a customary change or two.
Predicted XI: KL Rahul (C & WK), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami
Royal Challengers Bangalore
It is improbable that they would tinker with a winning combination.
Predicted XI: Virat Kohli (C), Devdutt Padikkal, Rajat Patidar, AB de Villiers (WK), Glenn Maxwell, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Kyle Jamieson, Yuzvendra Chahal
PBKS vs RCB Head to Head
Played – 26 | Punjab Kings – 14 | Royal Challengers Bangalore – 12
PBKS vs RCB Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
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