Royal Challengers Bangalore are third in the points table, behind Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, but I dare say RCB have been the best performing side in the past week and emerging as strong contenders for a place in the playoffs.
In their two previous matches, they notched up resounding wins. Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders were outplayed in their previous two games.
The all-round strength displayed by RCB in these games was in stark contrast to the disjointed, disappointing efforts in the first fortnight of the tournament.
Virat Kohli's return to form was clearly the trigger for revival. Runs started booming from the captain's bat, the swagger was back which perked up the others, and the team started doing well again.
AB de Villiers' show of utter genius against Kolkata Knight Riders on a sluggish Sharjah track where every other batsman struggled suggests that the IPL's best batting pair for several seasons is back in full flow.
Except in stray cases, matches, are not won by batsmen alone even in the T20 format. Along with the batting, RCB's bowling has come good too simultaneously, which is what makes the team look so formidable currently.
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar have been consistently good but lacked support from fast bowlers as Dale Steyn struggled.
The inclusion of Chris Morris, surprisingly benched in the initial matches, has given the attack depth of experience and wicket-taking edge.
Kings XI Punjab - bottom of the table - are still licking their wounds after the traumatising two-run loss to KKR, which could have broken their poor run of form.
Now, it reads as five defeats on the trot, which only highlights how desperate the situation is.
In spite of having the most prolific pair of openers in the tournament, and though Mohammed Shami and Ravi Bishnoi have been impressive in the bowling, Kings XI Punjab have flopped badly because neither the batting nor bowling has clicked together.
The two underperforming overseas stars - Glenn Maxwell and Jimmy Neesham - have hurt the team in this tournament.
Punjab may now be forced to look at the 41-year-old Chris Gayle, hero in many T20 matches across the world, to salvage the team in this boom-or-bust scenario.
The other encouragement for Kings XI Punjab comes from the fact that in their first encounter this season, they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore with KL Rahul smashing a brilliant century.
That match, played less than three weeks back, looks like it was many moons ago.
By Ayaz Memon
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