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David Miller pulls during his innings of 56, Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2013, Mumbai, April 29, 2013

Royal Challengers Bangalore finally scored away points, their first in five games on the road in IPL 2013, against Pune Warriors on Thursday. While the winning margin of 17 runs seemed comfortable enough in the end, Royal Challengers must have been worried as Robin Uthappa had a feisty go at the target of 188. To remove all remaining doubts, for themselves, the fans and the experts, they would have to score again in Mohali.

 

Apart from the psychological benefits of consecutive away victories, it’s imperative that they win to allow themselves a bit of a cushion on the points table. Royal Challengers currently sit at No. 2 with 14 points from 11 games. But Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals all have the same numbers too. With five games to go in the group stages, Royal Challengers will want to break away from the pack without much delay.

Kings XI Punjab sit just outside of that mid-table cluster, with eight points from 10 games. With nine wins being the number widely agreed upon as the number required to stand a serious chance of making the playoffs, they must win five of their remaining six matches. While Royal Challengers – with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli all having delivered at different times in this tournament – might seem like a daunting challenge for the relatively low-profile Kings XI, they can take heart from their previous two showings. After almost pulling off a giant-killing in Mumbai, they were spirited in their chase of 187 at Chepauk. Now, back at home in Mohali, they will be hoping to finally close out a game. Time is running out for them, and they can’t afford any more almost-theres.