Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to secure its second successive appearance in the IPL playoffs when it meets Punjab Kings at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday. RCB (14 points) is coming off two convincing wins against Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, kindling hopes of a maiden IPL title in Virat Kohli’s last season as skipper.
Central to this is Glenn Maxwell’s inspired form that has fetched back-to-back fifties. With AB de Villiers yet to fire, the possibilities seem immense for RCB. Harshal Patel’s league-leading 26 wickets and Yuzvendra Chahal’s wily wrist spin have ensured that RCB remains well-rounded.
PBKS, on the other hand, has blown hot and cold. But Friday’s five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders should help, for the K.L Rahul-led outfit (10 points) found a way to end on the right side of a capricious encounter and remain in the race for a playoffs spot. Nicholas Pooran’s form will however be a worry. The Caribbean big-hitter totalling just 22 runs in the last three matches.
But Shahrukh Khan, playing his first match of the second leg, showed glimpses of his bona fide ability as a T20 finisher with a nine-ball 22 against KKR. Arshdeep Singh (16 wickets) and Mohammad Shami (15 wickets) lead a bowling attack that continues to be potent.
This being an afternoon match, heat is set to be more of a factor, especially for the side fielding first. Sharjah has thus far been a low-scoring venue, making the contest all the more interesting.
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