Bangalore: With the race for a berth in the play-offs hotting up, sixth-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore will be determined to quell Kings XI Punjab's challenge in an Indian Premier League match on Friday.
Thanks to successive victories, RCB have nine points from eight games but will have to win at least four of their next six matches if they entertain hopes of being amongst the top four teams in the Twenty20 tournament.
Mumbai Indians, with 14 points from nine games, Kolkata Knight Riders (12 from nine) and Chennai Super Kings (12 from nine) are the front-runners at this stage of the competition. And three wins from the remaining five games could certainly seal a place for these sides in the play-offs.
A blip against Kings XI could make their climb to the summit more difficult.
Given this scenario, RCB will have to play their best cricket possible in the remainder of their six matches. A blip against Kings XI could make their climb to the summit more difficult.
For Kings XI too, it will be a crucial game as they are languishing at the ninth place with just six points from seven matches.
Kings XI will have to win on Friday if they want to keep themselves in the reckoning for a place in the qualifiers. A defeat could virtually throw them out of the contest, unless they win all their remaining six games.
All in all, the fans can expect a sizzling contest as both the teams boasts of batsmen who can devastate any bowling attack.
If RCB have the likes of Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, Kings XI have Adam Gilchrist, rising star Paul Valthaty and Shaun Marsh at their disposal who can tear apart any bowling side on their day.
And considering the form of these gladiators and with the wicket expected to play hard and true, we can expect a heap of runs.
Interestingly, RCB have raised their game by a notch or two since the advent of Gayle.
However, the Daniel Vettori-led side have serious concerns when it comes to their bowling department.
With pace spearhead Zaheer Khan looking out of sorts, RCB's bowling continues to remain it's weakest link.
Captain Vettori has been a standout performer with the ball and domestic recruits Syed Mohammad and Sreenath Arvind have done reasonably well, but what the Bangalore outfit lacks is a genuine wicket-taking bowler.
Kings XI, on other hand, have lost steam after making an impressive start to the tournament. Since winning three games on the trot, the Gilchrist-led side have lost three which includes a small margin defeat against Delhi Daredevils in a high-scoring thriller.
Punjab's batting has simply not been up to the mark despite Mumbaikar Valthaty's early heroics and Gilchrist once-in-a-while pyrotechnics.
The visitors' batting had depended too much on these two big-striking openers and Punjab's success depend much upon how their opening duo perform against RCB's attack.
Other overseas players, such as Marsh, Ryan McLaren and David Hussey, need to fire for Punjab to put up a good total or chase well.
Kings XI's bowling too has not been awe-inspiring. Praveen Kumar has not yet found his top form after coming from an injury lay-off and the attack wears a thin look.
Piyush Chawla, who struggled in the World Cup, has under-performed with only four victims in six games and needs to be more effective to stop the rampaging RCB batting line-up.
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