Kings XI Punjab will have to play out of their skins to get their stuttering campaign back on track when they face in-form Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi on Saturday in the first match of a double-header.
Smarting from a 69-run drubbing at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad, it will not be an easy task for a struggling KXIP side to stand up to the challenge thrown by an all-round KKR team, starting to click through the gears.
KXIP in IPL 2020
|DC vs KXIP||20 Sep||Dubai||KXIP lost in Super Over|
|KXIP vs RCB||24 Sep||Dubai||KXIP won by 97 runs|
|RR vs KXIP||27 Sep||Sharjah||KXIP lost by 4 wickets|
|KXIP vs MI||1 Oct||Abu Dhabi||KXIP lost by 48 runs|
|KXIP vs CSK||4 Oct||Dubai||KXIP lost by 10 wickets|
|SRH vs KXIP||8 Oct||Dubai||KXIP lost by 69 runs|
KKR in IPL 2020
|KKR vs MI||23 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR lost by 49 runs|
|KKR vs SRH||26 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 7 wickets|
|RR vs KKR||30 Sep||Dubai||KKR won by 37 runs|
|DC vs KKR||3 Oct||Sharjah||KKR lost by 18 runs|
|KKR vs CSK||7 Oct||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 10 runs|
Following five losses and a solitary win, Kings XI Punjab are currently placed at the bottom of the table with two points, whereas the Knight Riders are fourth with six points from three wins.
Notwithstanding a couple of reverses, KKR are gradually emerging as a strong contender to reach the business end of the tournament and be in with a shout for their third IPL title. A fair few of their players striking form as the tournament approaches the half-way stage.
Opener Shubman Gill has already created an impression and now KKR have found another option at the top in Rahul Tripathi, who will enter the game with some confidence after his swashbuckling innings of 81 against Chennai Super Kings two days ago.
After a string of poor scores that led to him being replaced by Tripathi at the top, Sunil Narine seems to be rediscovering his old touch with both bat and ball, and evidence of that was his outing against CSK where he was assigned different roles. The T20 veteran thrived.
The experienced Eoin Morgan is a huge presence in the middle-order which also has Nitish Rana, always on the lookout to impress the team management with his performances with the bat.
And then there is Andre Russell, who has not set the tournament ablaze in the manner in which he is expected to and is bound to come good at some point.
A big cause of concern for KKR is the form of their captain Dinesh Karthik, who is yet to contribute anything substantial with the bat. And though he came in to bat at number seven in the last game with not many overs remaining, Karthik has also failed to perform while batting at the number three position at the start of the tournament.
However, his captaincy was excellent in the game against CSK, especially the bowling changes he effected during the run-chase.
In pace bowling, they have the young duo of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, besides the seasoned Pat Cummins, who is coming into his own after a rough start.
While in spin, Narine has Varun Chakravarthy for company, and the player from Tamil Nadu will be high on confidence after bowling out Mahendra Singh Dhoni in their last match.
KXIP in trouble
Kings XI Punjab will again rely on their trusted opening pair of captain KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. If Chris Gayle recovers from his food poisoning, he will make his first appearance in the ongoing IPL and that could be a huge boost for KXIP and might push Agarwal down to No 3.
The mis-firing Glenn Maxwell is likely to make way for Gayle, should the veteran recover in time.
Nicholas Pooran’s exploits with the bat is a positive for KXIP and he will again look to play his shots freely. Even if they fared alright against SRH, death bowling is a major concern for KXIP and they would need to get it right against a strong KKR batting line-up.
|Matches||KXIP win||KKR win||Tied / NR||KXIP win||KKR win|
|KXIP vs KKR||25||8||17||0||32%||68%|
|Chris Gayle||Mohammed Shami||K Gowtham||KL Rahul|
|Mayank Agarwal||Mujeeb ur Rahman||Glenn Maxwell||Nicholas Pooran|
|Karun Nair||Arshdeep Singh||Deepak Hooda||Prabhsimran Singh|
|Sarfaraz Khan||Hardus Viljoen||James Neesham|
|Mandeep Singh||M Ashwin||Chris Jordan|
|J Suchith||Tajinder Singh|
|Nitish Rana||Kuldeep Yadav||Andre Russell||Dinesh Karthik|
|Rinku Singh||Prasidh Krishna||Sunil Narine||Nikhil Shankar Naik|
|Shubman Gill||Sandeep Warrier||Pat Cummins|
|Siddhesh Lad||Shivam Mavi||Varun Chakravarthy|
|Eoin Morgan||Kamlesh Nagarkoti||Chris Green|
|Rahul Tripathi||Lockie Ferguson|
|Tom Banton||M Siddharth|
Match starts at 1530 hrs IST and will be broadcast on Star Sports network and Disney+ Hotstar.
With PTI inputs