RCB continues to seek motivation ahead of KXIP clash

Royal Challengers Bangalore possesses some of the big guns in T20. The outfit, which is languishing at the bottom of the points table, needs to make good on it at least now to not be reduced to the status of a paper tiger.

Virat Kohli (centre) plays football during Royal Challengers Bangalore's practice session in Bengaluru.   -  G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Just like last year, Royal Challengers Bangalore entered the second half of this IPL praying for a miracle. While there was a dramatic turnaround in 2016, there has been no such run this time around, with RCB practically dumped out of the race for the playoffs when it still had four games left to play.

Then, as most teams do during a lost cause, it sought to play for pride. The latest loss to Mumbai Indians on Monday now seems to have dented that too. As it takes on Kings XI Punjab here at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday, the search for motivation seems unending.

“It has not been easy to be honest,” said all-rounder Stuart Binny, who himself has had a forgettable tournament thus far. "It has been difficult to motivate ourselves. It has happened to a few teams. We didn’t certainly expect it to happen to us. But we have spoken about it. We have regrouped and want to make the most of it [in the remaining matches].”

The Kings, on the other hand, has a lot to play for. Like last year, it didn't finish the first half of the tournament on a high. But having won two of its last three matches, including the ten-wicket thrashing of Delhi Daredevils in the previous game, it appears primed to launch an offensive. With eight points from nine games, it sits just outside the top-four.

“It’s come at the right time,” said Martin Guptill on the win over Delhi. “We started off very well but unfortunate to lose four games on the bounce. We lost the key moments in a few games. But we’ve played of couple of good games and are looking forward to putting out another good performance.”

Bowling has been a problem for the Kings, particularly at the death. However the performance against Delhi should warm the hearts. Sandeep Sharma (4-0-20-4) was undoubtedly the star but Axar Patel and Glenn Maxwell bowling a combined spell of 8-0-36-3 will augur well.

It's the sort of stifling line Bangalore has struggled to deal with all along. Even in the reverse fixture in Mohali, Axar troubled the RCB batsmen. In fact in that match Kings bowled a whopping 22 dot balls in the powerplay overs – a source of consternation throughout the competition.

“I still think RCB is a dangerous side,” insisted Guptill. “If you look at their line-up, all the way down, they've got match winners everywhere.”

It's a threat Bangalore has always held out. The outfit needs to make good on it at least now to not be reduced to the status of a paper tiger.

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