The Indian Premier League returns to Sharjah on Thursday for a battle between two of the better top orders in the competition as the Royal Challengers Bangalore take on the Kings XI Punjab in the latest IPL 2020 contest.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are enjoying a positive campaign and will be looking for another two points to add to their burgeoning collection here while the Kings XI have had a rotten season to date and even this early in the piece might need to win out if they are to make the postseason.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Things are improving quite nicely for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and a lot of it has come from the versatility of their bowling attack, which all of a sudden has a control on the opposing scoring rates which means that their batsmen don’t have to go hell for leather up top, meaning they can set up a platform for the likes of AB de Villiers to launch from. We saw in the previous match on this ground that when he has that at his disposal he is still one of the most fearsome batsmen in the game.
All of the top four of the Royal Challengers are in good form and I don’t think that can be underplayed from here on in. Most of the quick runs are going to come against the new ball for the remainder of this tournament so teams who are in form at the top will prosper. The other thing that is going to come to the fore from here on in is the need for mystery spin or extreme pace and Bangalore tick both those boxes as well.
Kings XI Punjab
It is clearly a season that has not gone to plan for the Kings XI Punjab. I have a bit of sympathy with them because they are one of the teams who have been massively hampered by the change in venue of the tournament and it has really showed. Whatever combination they have tried and how hard they have toiled, the Kings XI have rarely been able to find any sort of form with the ball either in taking wickets or stemming the flow of runs. On the few occasions their bowlers have done the job their batsmen have let them down.
The biggest problem that the Kings XI have now is that they have forgotten how to win. That is easily done but they were in a brilliant position to beat the Kolkata Knight Riders last time out but you can visibly see the panic setting in even though the situation was an easy one to control. To say the Kings XI need a win would be an understatement so they will be delighted to be facing the only team in the competition they have already beaten so far.
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AB de Villiers was in supreme form in the last match on this ground. He is one of those players that whatever the situation if he fires up for any period of time he will guarantee a score that is on the better side of par.
It appears as though Chris Gayle is finally going to be unleashed in this tournament against his former side. It isn’t a coincidence that he is making his bow in Sharjah. He is here to blitz the powerplay and on these boundaries that remains well within his compass.
I have to say there isn’t a huge amount that I like in this match. I’m tempted to take the under in the sixes battle but even though the wicket has slowed right up here there are just too many colossal hitters of a cricket ball on show here to take the chance. Logic would suggest that Bangalore will win the match but the Kings XI handed them an almighty beating in the reverse meeting so even that isn’t really an option.
In the end I’m going to play a couple of man of the match bets for this match and they involve a big hitter on both sides in the hope that one of them delivers the pyrotechnics that they are capable of. That is AB de Villiers for the Royal Challengers and Nicholas Pooran for the Kings XI. De Villiers is scoring his runs this season at a strike rate of 185.36 per 100 balls and comes into this match off the back of 73* off just 33 balls on this very ground. Pooran’s runs have come at a strike rate of 176.66 and he has scores of 44 and 77 in his last four matches. If either of those get decent time at the crease they could easily snatch the man of the match award.
Back AB.de Villiers Man of the Match for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 with Betfair
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Back N.Pooran Man of the Match for a 0.5/10 stake at 17.00 with Sky Bet