Punjab welcome king Kohli

Deepankar Sharda

Mohali, April 19

Punjab Kings return to their home ground looking to find some consistency and build on their victory against Lucknow Super Giants. After starting with two wins, Punjab suffered two straight losses. Though they managed to halt their run of losses, the win in Lucknow was far from being convincing.

Punjab missed their captain Shikhar Dhawan against Lucknow due to an injury. In his absence, the top-order again failed to fire, and it was only Sikandar Raza’s heroics that helped Punjab chase down the 160-run target.

Though Dhawan underwent a fitness test, it is still unclear if he will take the field against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Punjab will also be keen on the return to action of Englishman Liam Livingstone, who was unavailable for the previous matches. So far, Punjab have been missing the X factor that Livingstone provides.

The pitch at the PCA stadium being covered. TRIBUNE PHOTO: NITIN MITTAL

“They are available, but we are yet to take the final call,” said Punjab Kings’ bowling coach Charl Langeveldt. “We are definitely taking it as a tough challenge and hopeful of fielding our strong side. This is a crucial tie for us,” he added.

The highlight for Punjab from their game against Super Giants was their bowling performance, with stand-in skipper Sam Curran, Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and Harpreet Brar all making key contributions.

“He (Arshdeep) has improved a lot and I must admit his hard work is paying off. We can completely rely on him in the dying overs,” Langeveldt said.

Punjab’s opponents tomorrow are also searching for some consistency after winning two and losing three games. Having slipped to defeats from favourable positions in two games, RCB have lacked that winning spark.

While Punjab are looking for their second home win, RCB are hoping a change of venue can end their slump. RCB come here after losing two consecutive home games. RCB’s recent run against Punjab, though, doesn’t make it an easy outing for them. They have lost five of their last six games against Punjab.

“We are not comparing our position with any other teams,” RCB batter Glenn Maxwell said. “Punjab’s bowlers are in good form. We are well aware of the capabilities of Punjab Kings’ players. There are several unlikely heroes who put their hand up in the game, for instance Raza, Short, Harpreet and Shahrukh Khan,” the Australian added.

While Punjab are currently placed fifth with six points from five outings, RCB are holding on to the eighth position with four points from five outings.

Rain alert

The meteorological department has predicted that there will be a cloudy sky with one or two spells of rain tomorrow. The teams saw a trailer today, with heavy rain disrupting practice. With the outfield inundated, the ground staff will be hoping for a sunny day tomorrow.

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