Their back against the wall after six defeats in seven matches, tournament laggards Kings XI Punjab desperately need a win to keep their slim semifinal hopes alive when they take on formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Friday.
Barring a couple of closely-fought contests, Punjab have not have put up a dismal show so far in the IPL. The 2008 semifinalists and last year’s number five finishers have lost all three of their home games and have won only one match.
The latest defeat came against table-toppers Mumbai Indians on Tuesday and what added to their misery was the fact that they were without regular captain Kumar Sangakkara who was serving a one-match ban for the team’s inability to maintain required over-rate for the third time in the event.
The big-hitting Yuvraj Singh has been a flop so far and has managed just about 100 odd runs in all the seven games put together. Mahela Jayawardene has also come a cropper.
Sangakkara, who had replaced Yuvraj Singh as captain this season, has also failed with the bat in six games that he played while the team had to depend mostly on the starts provided by England player Ravi Bopara and some lusty hitting down the order by Irfan Pathan to a large extent.
Shaun Marsh, who was the top run getter for his side in the inaugural IPL, again proved what he was capable of by hitting a half-century against Mumbai Indians in the first match he played. His inclusion in the side has lifted the batting to an extent.
The return of Brett Lee was expected to boost the pace attack, but the Aussie has failed to impress so far. Pathan and Salabh Srivastava have not made much impact either.
The Bangalore side, on the other hand, has been going great guns under Anil Kumble, who has also been the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets averaging only just 5.28 runs per over.
The RCB, placed number three having won four of their seven games, have a formidable batting with South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis in terrific form with both the bat and ball.
Manish Pandey has also looked good and with the inclusion of Kevin Pietersen and Cameron White, it has lent depth to their batting. Robin Uthappa can also score briskly and make useful contributions for the side.
In the bowling department, Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn have been doing well, while Vinay Kumar, too, has shown his ability to contain the batsman.
At this stage of the tournament, Punjab will have to come up with an extraordinary performance if they don’t want to see their campaign in IPL III come to an abrupt end.