Bangalore:On a roll after four back-to-back wins, Kings XI Punjab start as overwhelming favourites against the beleaguered Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Monday.
Going into Monday's match, Yuvraj Singh's Kings XI Punjab seems to be the only team that has not been affected by the exit of its Australian imports -- Simon Katich and Brett Lee. In contrast, Bangalore lost their only consistent performer in Ross Taylor when the Kiwi opener had to leave for national duty against England.
Much is expected from Taylor's replacement Misbah-ul-Haq but the Pakistani right-hander has played only one game and that too without much success.
The Rahul Dravid-led outfit has managed just two wins in the high-profile Twenty20 tourney so far and they have come against teams that are not exactly in great touch either - Mumbai Indians and Hyderabad Deccan Chargers.
King XI, on the other hand, lost their first two encounters but bounced back brilliantly to remain unbeaten thereafter, brushing aside controversies like the slap-gate involving its pacer S Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh.
Their last win came against the more-fancied Kolkata Knight Riders and they discovered a match-winner in Australian Shaun Marsh, son of Geoff Marsh, who became man of the match on debut against Deccan Chargers.
The bowling too has not been affected much by Lee's departure and Irfan Pathan has taken over as the pace spearhead with lan.
The only cause of concern remains Sreesanth's economy rate and aggression, none of which has not shown any signs of coming down.
Bangalore, meanwhile, can take heart from Praveen Kumar's all-round performance. The UP player has been effective with the bat and ball and was the Man of the Match of their last win over Deccan Chargers.
However, the hosts desperately need somebody to strike form at the top. Although Wasim Jaffer, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid have been scoring consistently, their strike rates have been too slow for the slam-bang version.
This has put additional burden on keeper-batsman Mark Boucher, who is left with too many runs to score in the last few overs after the top order fails to put on any substantial score on the board.
But despite these shortcomings, the Royal Challengers would be hoping to spring a surprise and register their second successive win at home.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Rahul Dravid (Captain), Jacques Kallis, Wasim Jaffer, Virat Kohli, Mark Boucher, Cameron White, Balachandra Akhil, Ashley Noffke, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Sunil Joshi, Abdur Razzak, KP Appanna, J Arunkumar, Devraj Patil, Bharat Chipli, Misbah-ul-Haq, Ross Taylor, Vinay Kumar, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Shreevats Goswami.
Kings XI Punjab: Yuvraj Singh (Captain), Ajitesh Argal, Piyush Chawla, Pankaj Dharmani, Rishi Dhawan, Irfan Pathan, Nitin Saini, Vikram Singh, Tanmay Srivastava, Karan Goel, James Hopes, M Jayawardene, Uday Kaul, Luke Pomersbach, Kumar Sangakkara, Sunny Sohal, Sahil Kukreja, Shaun Marsh, Kyle Mills, Wilkin Mota, Ramesh Powar, Ramnaresh Sarwan and S Sreesanth.