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Bangalore look to strengthen spot in top four with win over Punjab

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Bangalore will be looking to register their third consecutive win in the Indian T20 League when they go up against Punjab in Sharjah on Thursday. Virat Kohli’s men are currently third in the points table and will be looking to strengthen their position in the top four with another victory.

Punjab, meanwhile, have had a tournament to forget so far and will be desperate for a much-needed win against Bangalore. They have won just one of their seven games this season and find themselves rooted at the bottom of the standings, cast adrift of the rest of the teams.

That said, Punjab can take some hope from their head-to-head record against Bangalore. The two teams have squared off 25 times with Punjab winning 13 times while Bangalore have claimed maximum points on 12 occasions.

Gayle storm incoming?

The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle is one of the most devastating batsmen in the history of cricket and is expected to take the field against Bangalore in what will be his first T20 match after 274 days. His record against Bangalore in the Indian T20 League since 2018 is an encouraging one with the left-hander averaging 70 against them at a strike rate of 159.09.

RCB Bowlers

Runs

Balls

Outs

SR

A Zampa

44

16

0

275

CH Morris

47

46

3

102.2

DW Steyn

70

73

3

95.89

MM Ali

39

23

0

169.57

Mohammed Siraj

43

16

0

268.8

NA Saini

17

16

0

106.2

UT Yadav

70

53

4

132.1

YS Chahal

11

12

0

91.7

Table: Chris Gayle against current Bangalore bowlers in T20s 

Gayle and Punjab will also take confidence from the fact that the Jamaican has scored five fifties and boasts a strike rate of 150.63 in UAE. Furthermore, his record at Sharjah – the venue for Thursday’s encounter – offers Punjab room for optimism. He’s scored four fifties and 387 runs from 13 innings at the batsman-friendly venue and has an average of 29.77 as well as a strike rate of 157.32 at the stadium.  

Morris the menace

Despite missing Bangalore’s first five games due to injury, Chris Morris has hit the ground running since making his comeback to the team. He has taken five wickets at an average of 7.20, which is the best by any bowler this season. His economy of 4.50 is also the best by a bowler so far and the South African’s arrival has also boosted Bangalore’s death bowling. 

He’s claimed four wickets in two matches from overs 17-20, which is the most by a Bangalore bowler at death. His economy rate of 5.33 in such overs isn’t bad either and it’s not a coincidence that Bangalore’s death bowling performance has improved following his arrival, which has also resulted in an upturn in the team’s fortunes.

Players to watch:

Bangalore – AB de Villiers

AB de Villiers has been in stunning form and fans can expect him to continue entertaining when he faces Punjab – his favourite opponents in the Indian T20 League. He’s scored 228 runs, made three fifties and is averaging 57 while going at a strike rate of 185.37 this season. The South African’s record against Punjab reads 708 runs at an average of 50.56 – his best against any active Indian T20 League team. He also has seven half-centuries against Punjab and poses a huge threat to their bowlers again.

Punjab – Glenn Maxwell

The hard-hitting Australian has endured a forgettable Indian T20 League season so far, having accumulated just 58 runs in seven matches. Glenn Maxwell, though, showed glimpses of his best in the last game when he almost pulled off a spectacular win for his team. He will want to kick on when he walks into the middle to bat against Bangalore and will be eager to make amends following a lacklustre first half of the season.

Stats to watch out for:

1: Yuzvendra Chahal needs 1 wicket to reach 200 T20 Wickets.

3: 6s Virat Kohli needs to reach 200 6s in the Indian T20 League.

6: 4s Virat Kohli needs to reach 500 4s in the Indian T20 League.

20: Wickets Yuzvendra Chahal has taken against KXIP, his most against any opponent in the Indian T20 League.

37: Runs KL Rahul needs to reach 4500 runs in T20s.

Writer’s pick:

Bangalore are likelier to come away with the points from Sharjah given that they have developed a winning habit of late. In stark contrast, Punjab seem to be finding ways to lose and despite Gayle’s probable inclusion in the team, it’s difficult to see them get a positive result from the contest.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran

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