Dubai: Left in disarray after consecutive losses, Royal Challengers Bangalore face the arduous task of taming the yet-to-be-beaten table-toppers Kings XI Punjab when the two sides clash in an IPL match here on Monday.
The contrast in their fortunes could not have been deeper going into tomorrow`s match given that Punjab are yet to taste defeat this IPL while Bangalore have lost two matches on the trot.
RCB, sans West Indian marauder Chris Gayle who is nursing a sore back, were completely outplayed in their most recent match -- against Rajasthan Royals.
Their star-studded batting line-up collapsed to the third lowest IPL total ever before Rajasthan made short work of the paltry 71-run target in Abu Dhabi.
Except for skipper Virat Kohli, none of the RCB batsmen could make any noteworthy contribution last night. Yuvraj Singh has been getting decent knocks but the pace of his scoring remains a concern.
Yesterday`s loss was a crushing one and Kohli wants to forget it as quickly as possible but it would be quite a task for his team to turn it around against Punjab, by far the most consistent team of the season so far.
Barring last night`s game against Kolkata Knight Riders, which was won by their bowlers, Punjab`s batsmen, especially Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, have been in murderous form.
It would require a very special effort to stop them, something that KKR`s spin combo of Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla managed to do last night before KXIP produced some magic of their own with the ball through the pace pair of Sandeep Sharma and Mitchell Johnson.
A big positive for KXIP is senior opener Virender Sehwag`s return to some form. The veteran, who has fallen out of national reckoning, is slowly getting back into the groove with some decent contributions in the past couple of matches. But Cheteshwar Pujara is still finding his feet in the format even though his individual form has not yet hurt the team too much.
It would be a massive boost for Bangalore if Gayle makes it back to the squad after recovering from his back problem, but his availability is still not confirmed. Also, more would be expected from South African swashbuckler A B de Villiers, who is yet to produce an eye-catching performance so far in the tournament.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhaman Saha, Thisara Perera, Glenn Maxwell, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Akshar Patel, Beuran Hendricks, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur, L Balaji, Parvinder Awana, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mandeep Singh.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Albie Morkel, Mitchell Starc, Ashok Dinda, Ravi Rampaul, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nic Maddinson, Varun Aaron, Vijay, Sachin Rana, Yogesh Takawale, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shadab Jakati, Sandeep Warrier, Harshal Patel, Tanmay Mishra.