The Royal Challengers left out Washington Sundar
Toss Royal Challengers Bangalore chose to bowl first vs Punjab Kings
Virat Kohli chose to bowl, as the Royal Challengers Bangalore sought to mark the halfway mark of their IPL campaign by vaulting to the top of the standings, against the Punjab Kings in Ahmedabad.
The Royal Challengers bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign, against the current table-toppers, the Chennai Super Kings last week, by edging out the Delhi Capitals by one run in their most recent fixture, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
And, having been pushed so close after setting their target of 172 in that match, Kohli decided to do the chasing at the same venue this time, his decision also influenced by the short boundary on one side that Prithvi Shaw in particular took advantage of, in the Capitals’ seven-wicket romp last night.
The Royal Challengers made one change to their line-up, with the left-arm spin of Shahbaz Ahmed coming in for Washington Sundar’s offspinning all-round prowess, a decision that Kohli said was specific to their opponents’ combination.
For the Kings, Moises Henriques and Arshdeep Singh missed out, along with Mayank Agarwal, who suffered an injury in their last outing. The left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar came into the line-up, alongside Prabhsimran Singh and Riley Meredith, who came in for some heavy treatment in his most recent outing against the Capitals two weeks ago.
This contest is arguably more critical for the Kings, who were badly beaten by their fellow strugglers, the Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday, and are part of a mid-table scrap for points with the top three teams seemingly pulling away from the pack in the race for the playoff places.
A victory would draw the Kings level with the defending champions, Mumbai Indians, on six points (albeit from one game more), but a fifth loss in seven would leave them in danger of propping up the table, given that their fellow strugglers, the Rajasthan Royals and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, face one another on Sunday.
Punjab Kings: 1 KL Rahul (capt & wk), 2 Prabhsimran Singh, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Deepak Hooda, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Shahrukh Khan, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Riley Meredith
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Virat Kohli (capt), 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Shahbaz Ahmed, 7 Kyle Jamieson, 8 Daniel Sams, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket