Bangalore: Dropped to the fifth position from third in the points table, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would look to return to winning ways against an improving Kings XI Punjab here on Wednesday to brighten up their play-off chances in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League.
The loss against Kolkata Knight Riders by 47 runs in their last game notwithstanding, RCB would look to draw inspiration from the five-wicket win against Kings XI Punjab in the last encounter between the two sides at Mohali.
But RCB will have to fight tooth and nail against Kings XI to conjure up a win at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
It has been a mixed outing for RCB so far in the tournament, winning four games and losing as many from nine outings with one match against Chennai Super Kings being washed out.
RCB`s foreign recruits -- Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and to some extent Tillakartane Dilshan -- have played stellar roles in the victories, but the form of its domestic players has been a major worry for the Bangalore outfit.
Gayle and de Villiers have been at their devastating best with the bat, but find themselves waging a lonely battle time and again because of the lack of support from domestic players.
Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara all have failed to contribute with the bat so far, thereby putting extra pressure on the foreign players, especially Gayle to do the bulk of the scoring.
After showing great promise in Australia, Kohli has failed to live up to his reputation, scoring just 147 runs from eight innings with only one half century against his name.
But the young Delhi batsman would be desperate to turn things around and strike form in tomorrow`s match.
RCB would look a completely different side and be more formidable if Kohli gets among runs, which would also boost the confidence of Tiwary, Agarwal, Pujara and others.
Among pacers, Zaheer Khan has impressed in patches up but R Vinay Kumar and young Harshal Patel have been expensive.
Spin wizard Muttaiah Muralitharan did well in almost all the games he played, but the RCB team management is in a dilemma how to fit in both skipper Daniel Vettori and the Sri Lankan in the scheme of things.
Young left-arm spinner KP Appanna, who fashioned a win against Rajasthan Royal by claiming four wickets for 19 runs, too has impressed all and sundry in his limited outings.
On the flip side, Kings XI is slowly and steadily finding their form after a slow start to the tournament.
And come tomorrow, the Punjab outfit would look to extend their winning run following the the seven-run victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their last game.
Kings XI has eight points from nine games with four wins and five loses and the visitors would look to increase their tally to keep alive their play-off chances.
But Punjab`s misery is compounded by the absence of their skipper Gilchrist, who is out with a hamstring injury.
In the absence of Gilchrist, Kings XI would be banking heavily on stand-in-skipper David Hussey to deliver the goods. The younger among the Hussey brothers, has so far scored 210 runs from eights innings at an average of 30.
Besides Hussey, another Australian Shaun Marsh has also been amongst runs. He has so far notched up 258 runs in nine innings and has been instrumental in Kings XI`s wins.
Young Mandeep Singh, who has 234 runs under his belt, would also like to carry on his good showing up the order.
On the bowling front, the inclusion of Parwinder Awana and Azhar Mahmood has added a sting to Kings XI`s pace attack, which also has a wily customer in Praveen Kumar.
Kings XI`s spin department is being led by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who has so far picked up 11 wickets from nine games with an economy rate of 6.26 runs per over.
But the weather God can spoil the home team`s party yet again as the local Met department has forecast isolated thundershowers with 30 per cent chances of precipitation by 2100 hours tomorrow.