The IPL has now entered what is typically called the business end of the tournament. There are several teams on the table who have reached a point where even one loss in their last two or three games could mean curtains in terms of playoff qualification.
One of those teams is the Punjab Kings, who have played 11 and sit on 10 points. They need three wins from their last three games to get up to 16 points.
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Even if they do manage that, it might not be enough, with the qualification ceiling now raised from the usual 16-point mark we used to see in the eight-team version of the IPL.
They’ll go up against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who sit in a prettier position in fourth place – guarding that playoff zone, in which the Rajasthan Royals, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants are looking good to hold on to their positions.
As such, Royal Challengers Bangalore are the team to beat. It is their current position on the table that is most coveted, and there is a price on their heads. They have two games to go; so far in 12 games, they’ve managed to rack up 14 points.
Two wins from their last two games is an ideal result for them – it will take them up to 18 points, which would mathematically give them the potential to finish in the top two.
That does, however, look unlikely, and their immediate concern will be to get to 16 points – and get there as soon as possible. They do not want to be in a spot where come their final game they might have to rely on other results to go their way.
A win against the Punjab Kings on Friday will go a long way in making it a third consecutive playoffs season for them.
Bangalore vs Punjab Odds
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||-125|
Royal Challengers Bangalore (-125)
Having stopped the Chennai Super Kings from doing a double over them this season, Royal Challengers Bangalore went into their last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad with a barrel of confidence.
That didn’t end up rubbing off on Virat Kohli, who got a third golden duck of the season, but the rest of the batting showed up as they amassed 192 for 3 – with Faf du Plessis setting the tone up front and Dinesh Karthik helping himself to an unbeaten 30 off 8 balls that propelled them from 159 at the start of the 19th over to 192 by the end of the innings.
Against one of the relatively less loaded bowling lineups, Royal Challengers’ batting should be able to holds its own again. It is with the ball that they could be potentially vulnerable.
Barring Wanindu Hasaranga, who took five wickets in their last game, and Harshal Patel, who brings his variety of slower balls to the back end of the innings, the Royal Challengers’ fast-bowling lineup is one that could potentially play into the strengths of stroke makers like Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Liam Livingstone.
Punjab Kings (+105)
The Kings are still struggling to create any kind of a winning streak in the IPL, and it seems inevitable that their next result is always going to be the opposite of the previous one. With that being the case, they should be slated to win against the Royal Challengers. However, another thing they’re still not very sure about is the makeup of their batting order.
While a batting order of floaters is desirable in this format of the game, the batsmen who are floating around in the order must be suited to such a structure too. With Mayank Agarwal giving up the Sportsbook spot, they don’t have the most versatile of floaters.
His job has been reduced somewhat to a player who hangs around until Liam Livingstone can come in and do his thing. That isn’t an ideal use of their batting resources, but a top-heavy roster cannot be any other way. For Punjab to win, therefore, a lot of different things have to go their way.
Bangalore vs Punjab Pick
Royal Challengers To Win (-125)
Given the inconsistencies of team balance as well as recent results, it is hard to see the Punjab Kings going on and beating Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Bangalore vs Punjab Best Bet
Wanindu Hasaranga To Take 2+ Wickets (+100)
Wanindu Hasaranga is among the rare leg spinners in the world who can go well against both right- and left-handed batsmen. He will enjoy the prospect of bowling against Punjab’s top-four mix.