Bangalore: The Royal Challengers Bangalore will have to live up to their reputation of being hometown bullies if they hope to remain in contention for the play-offs as they return to familiar environment to take on the unpredictable Kings XI Punjab here Tuesday after three weeks on the road in the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL).
RCB's track record at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium this season has been as impeccable as most other teams. However, after suffering four defeats in six away games in the past few weeks, they need to win both their remaining matches at home, including one against the rampaging Chennai Super Kings, to progress in the competition.
With 16 points from 14 matches, RCB have to constantly look over their shoulders at Sunrisers Hyderabad, also on 16, while defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders (12 from 14) are on a hot charge and Kings XI (10 from 13) still believe they have an outside chance should they win their remaining three matches.
Thus, there is a lot at stake for the Virat Kohli-led RCB on the morrow when besides the visiting opponents, they also need to keep an eye on the heavens with the city experiencing intermittent showers more of which is forecast this week during evenings and nights.
RCB can ill-afford to drop any more points and would be hoping that their key players Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Kohli besides the bowlers fire in unison against Kings XI who chased down 190 in Mohali when the teams last met barely a week back, courtesy an unbeaten 101 by South African David Miller.
RCB's dependence on the trio of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers needs no elaboration though the Jamaican's success with the bat this season has been mostly at home where he has scores of 92 not out, 49 not out, 85 not out and 175 not out in four of the six games thus far, in sharp contrast to just one half-century (61) in the eight away matches.
The lack of consistency in the RCB ranks, especially in the away games, has hurt them and could well weigh them down at the wire in such an eventuality. However, their massive win over Pune Warriors India by 130 runs here last month considerably boosted their Net Run Rate that has also helped them to remain in the top-four bracket so far.
As for Adam Gilchrist's Punjab side, the going has been up and down with a couple of close defeats affecting their progress on the league table. A team without superstars, Kings XI have been struggling for the best part of the competition with their key players like Gilchrist, David Hussey and Shaun Marsh being inconsistent, not to mention their bowling in the end overs that has cost them precious runs.
Much of Punjab's chances Tuesday night would hinge on the team composition and balance, but one more defeat will certainly rule them out of the playoffs race. Given RCB's track record at home, the hosts could well notching up their ninth win that could extend their run in the tournament.