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IPL 10, Match 43: Bangalore vs Punjab

Wisden India logo Wisden India 05-05-2017 Nisha Shetty

It can't get any worse for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Not after they've hit rock bottom, languishing at eighth position on the Indian Premier League 2017 points table. Definitely not after they've been shot out for 49, the lowest score in IPL history. The only way to go from there is up.

© IANS

They certainly owe it to their passionate supporters to put up a better show when they take on Kings XI Punjab at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday (May 5). The fans have cheered them on every year, despite every year ending in varying degrees of disappointment. And you can bet thousands will throng the stadium, hoping and wishing and waving their red flags vigorously, that the team will entertain them once more, maybe even win.

It's not just the number of defeats (eight) that's stinging, but the meek manner in which they've folded without much fight. The last match was an improvement, posting a total of 162 for 8 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium and forcing the chase to the penultimate ball of the game before losing by five wickets. But what was also apparent from the game was that they still haven't figured out their ideal playing XI.

One day Chris Gayle is in. Then he's out. Shane Watson was considered important enough to be the side's stand-in captain when Virat Kohli was unfit at the start of the tournament, but he has hardly been a regular feature since. And Samuel Badree, bafflingly, sat out in Mumbai despite recording a hat-trick against the same opposition two weeks earlier, and pitches across the country getting slower.

Bangalore know that Gayle won't be Mr Consistency for them, but the way the season has panned out shows just how much they had relied in the past on Virat and AB de Villiers to fire with the hope that the others might rally around them. With the duo struggling by its own lofty standards, the batting has looked largely rudderless.Punjab know a thing or two about putting all the eggs into one basket. They did something similar when they trusted the duo of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller to put runs on the board on a regular basis after their 2014 display. Eventually, poor shows in the following years made them realise the importance of bringing in new faces.

Hashim Amla, for all his heroics in the Test arena, has shown he can be just as impressive in the shortest format of the game. Martin Guptill, who hadn't garnered too much interest at the auction supposedly due to his poor record in India, has shown he can rectify those numbers yet. Though they've only played the one game together -- the previous match against Delhi Daredevils in Mohali -- they seemed to gel well at the top. More importantly, if either Guptill or Amla can provide the impetus at the top, the burden will be that much less on Maxwell to go bang-bang from ball one.

Having bundled out Delhi for 67, one would think that all is ship-shape in the Punjab bowling department too, but they should still consider bringing in Matt Henry to sharpen the attack. Continuing with four overseas batsmen shows some lack of faith in the likes of Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha and even Axar Patel, which really shouldn't be the case. Securing a playoff spot has been made much more difficult by Rising Pune Supergiant's recent success, but it's still possible so they can't afford any mis-steps.

It wasn't a huge revelation when Stuart Binny admitted on Thursday that it was difficult for Bangalore to pick themselves up after the spate of defeats. Still, Punjab ought to be aware of the fact that misery happens to love company.

Head-to-head record

Played 19; Bangalore 8, Punjab 11.

Head-to-head at the Chinnaswamy Stadium

Played 8. Punjab 4, Bangalore 4.

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