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The in-form Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on the struggling Kings Xl Punjab at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which will mark the 31st match of the Indian Premier League 2020. The last encounter saw KL Rahul and Co. completely dominate the Royal Challengers Bangalore as the Punjab team ended up on the winning side by 97 runs. Said that, the things are not the same for the Punjab team now as they have been struggling to win matches and are placed at the bottom of the table.

The previous encounter saw RCB win the toss and elected to bowl first. The stunning innings of KL Rahul, who scored a brilliant 132 of 69 balls which is currently the record for the highest score by a batsman this year and also became the highest individual score by an Indian in the IPL. The century of Rahul propelled KXIP to a score of 206. With the RCB batsmen struggling in the start of the tournament meant that they were dismissed for 109 runs. 

Both the teams will come into the match on contrasting backgrounds as KXIP come to the match on back of a five match losing streak. While the RCB are having a wonderful season and are placed third in the points table, which means they are well in hunt for their maiden IPL title.

Kings Xl Punjab in their last match against Kolkata Knight Riders came very close to their second win this season but the sharp death bowling by the KKR meant the Punjab side ended up on the losing side by 2 runs. RCB on the other side had a very comfortable over the KKR side as the same luck was experienced by the KKR against the mighty RCB. With their star batsman AB de Villiers scoring quick fire 73 of 33 balls, the RCB side managed to put up a score of 194. The pin-point bowling of the RCB side meant that the KKR side was reduced to 112 for the loss of 9 wickets in their quota of 20 overs.

Can KXIP finally turn the tables in their favor and keep their hopes alive in the tournament? Or will Virat Kohli’s men bag another two points and cement their place at the top of the table?

Head to Head

Matches Played- 25, RCB- 12, KXIP- 13, N/R- 0

Team News

RCB have not reported any injuries and will be happy with the way the team has been progressing. The management is likely to feature the same Xl that handed them a comfortable victory over the KKR.

KXIP on the other side have tried out various combinations but nothing has been working in their favor. Lot has been on the shoulders of the openers and the occasional cameos by the West Indian Nicholas Pooran has been the only silver lining of the team.  

As per the latest report, The West Indian hard-hitter Chris Gayle is now fully fit which could mean the West Indian Legend could play his first match this season and will be interesting as he will face off against his former teammates. The inclusion of the owner of many batting records in the IPL will definitely boost the confidence of the struggling KXIP to bounce back in the tournament.

Pitch and Conditions

The pitch in Sharjah has been a belter for the batsman. But the match between RCB and KKR saw the pitch being a bit on the slower side especially during the second innings. This may be the indication for the pitch slowing down and if that's the case we can definitely expect the spinners to have a say. 

Contrary to the initial 200 plus score, a score of 180-190 seems a winning one on this pitch now. With the match scheduled to take place in the evening, the due is once again expected to play a major part.

The conditions are once again ideal for cricket as clear skies are expected throughout. In what will be a huge relief for the players, the temperatures and humidity are expected to drop in the coming weeks. The temperature during this encounter is likely to be hovering in the 29-30 degree range with humidity around the 40% range. 

Probable Playing Xl

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Kings Xl Punjab (KXIP): KL Rahul (c), Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh/ Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran, Simran Singh (wk), Glenn Maxwell/Chris Gayle, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sheldon Cotrell, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh

Key Battles

Devdutt Padikkal (RCB) vs Mohammad Shami (KXIP)

Devdutt Padikkal (RCB) vs Mohammad Shami (KXIP)

Devdutt Paddikkal is undoubtedly the best find of this season as he has been scoring in almost all the matches he has played. The youngster has already scored 243 runs in the seven matches played so far. He has been in great touch and will be looking to close in on the orange cap contention. Though, his rare failure came against this very opponent and will be looking to make the best out of this encounter.

The left-hander has not shown much weaknesses and has been fluent. He has already shown  us he can even dominate the best bowlers in the world. But, Mohammad Shami is a really good touch and he has been troubling the openers lately. There is no doubt the experienced Indian pacer will be eyeing the wicket of the youngster early in the game.

Can the youngster win the battle against KXIP this time around? Or will Shami make his stay a short one?

Mayank Agarwal (KXIP) vs Washington Sundar (RCB)

Mayank Agarwal (KXIP) vs Washington Sundar (RCB)

The KXIP opener has been in the form of his life and is piling up the runs with every match being played. Though he would be feeling unfortunate as his team stands bottom of the table, the Right-hander surely has been doing his part. He has managed to notch up 337 runs in the 7 matches played so far and is positioned second in the list of the highest run-scorers this season, only behind his captain KL Rahul who has scored 387 runs so far.

RCB though seem a completely different side now. They seem to have overcome one of their most exposed weaknesses- Bowling. The line-up looks very well balanced and the inclusion of Washington Sundar has done the team wonders. The all-rounder has been one of the most economical bowlers this season. Though, not very active on the wickets column, he has been containing the batsmen well in the powerplay overs. With an economy of 4.90, he is currently positioned second in the list of best economy rates in this season of IPL.

Can Mayank Agarwal counter the attack of the all-rounder? Or will once again the dot balls put the openers under pressure?

Prediction

It is a must win game for KXIP. KL Rahul and Co. are sure to play their best in order to keep their hopes in the tournament. Though, apart from the openers and few bowlers, the team does not seem to be doing all that great. Said that, the West Indian legend Chris Gayle would play his first match this IPL as he was deemed fit to play. As we know he is one the most destructive batsmen in the sport and when in the zone he can take the game away from the opposition in a matter of a few overs. 

Though few factors such as lack of match practice in recent times and the points table pressure may work in the favor of RCB. 

The RCB look very strong on the sheets and have been doing a wonderful job this season. The team looks well in place to win their maiden IPL title. With Chris Morris making it to the side and playing brilliantly in the last two games, the side looks very well balanced. With the match scheduled to take place in Sharjah, the conditions would be in favor of the batsmen.

The form factor looks well in favor of the Bangalore team and it will take something special to get past them. Maybe a Gayle Storm could?

Cricwizz predicts Royal Challengers Bangalore to win