Both sides are struggling for form but Matt Harris is expecting Kings XI Punjab to overcome Royal Challengers Bangalore and build towards the next phase of IPL 11...
"It was a logical move to bring back Aaron Finch against KKR on Saturday even through the Aussie had been out of touch but that batting still looks light with Axar Patel coming in at six."
Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Monday, 15:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Kings Frailties Exposed
Kings XI Punjab remain in the play off places but two straight defeats leaves Ravichandran Ashwin's side in danger of being caught by the chasing pack. For much of the tournament, KXIP have relied heavily on Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul for their runs and in the last three matches, Rahul has carried the batting.
It was a logical move to bring back Aaron Finch against KKR on Saturday even through the Aussie had been out of touch but that batting still looks light with Axar Patel coming in at six. For this vital game against RCB on Monday, KXIP may want to include David Miller or Yuvraj Singh as a side heavy on bowling still conceded a season's highest 245 against the Knight Riders.
RCB rubber-stamped Delhi's elimination with a comfortable win on Saturday but defeat against Kings XI will effectively extinguish their own faint hopes of qualification. You can always rely on the Royal Challengers to let you down and once again it's largely been down to a lack of depth beyond their stellar signings,
The last time Bangalore made the play offs, both Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers were scoring heavily in the season that Kohli approached 1000 runs with the bat. That hasn't happened this year and while Saturday's win was an impressive one, it was against bottom of the table Delhi and was RCB's first victory in three.
In three matches at the Holkar Cricket Stadium at Indore, the average first innings score sits at 190 but that has been skewed heavily by KKR's effort on Saturday. It remains one of the faster surfaces this season however, and as KXIP made a respectable 214 in chasing that huge total of 245, we could perhaps expect the side taking first knock to aim for that 190 average.
The weather isn't expected to intervene on Monday and it could be a difficult toss to call given Kolkata's winning total although the two previous games both went to the chasing side.
With two sides struggling for form, this is the tightest result market I've seen to date at IPL 11 with the Royal Challengers slightly ahead at [1.92], closely followed by Kings XI Punjab at [1.96]
So how do we split them - RCB have the greater batting strength but if Kohli and De Villiers go early then they are often out of the game while Kings XI's talented and varied bowling attack are underperforming. It's likely to be one of those matches which is swung by one big performance and I'm banking on it coming from the home camp with Rahul in top form and Gayle due a contribution.
I've personally been staking in Kings XI's Top Batsman market as there is little competition. KL Rahul has top scored in Punjab's last three games while only two players - Rahul and Chris Gayle - have delivered the profit in ten of eleven matches to date.
Gayle starts as favourite this time around at 21/10 but Rahul's consistency while the rest are failing has been admirable and I'm happy to back him at 11/4 for four straight returns. For reference, other options in this market include Karun Nair at 4/1 plus Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal who are both listed at 9/2.
I've an inclination to back Kohli to top score for RCB but will finish instead in a market with fewer options. Monday's game may not be another six-hitting spree but if Kohli does hit form and gets support from De Villiers and others then Bangalore should convert a profit in the Most Sixes market.
The Royal Challengers are not unreasonable here at 10/11 as opposed to Punjab's 11/10.
Matt Harris' IPL 2018 P/L