After three consecutive games on the road, Kings XI Punjab return to Mohali’s IS Bindra Stadium to host Kolkata Knight Riders in a game neither side can afford to lose. With both teams tied at 10 points apiece with a couple of games to go, a win is imperative for the Shers as well as the Knights if they are to keep their dreams of a top four finish alive, as a loss would make it mathematically improbable for both sides to make the playoffs.
Kings XI Punjab
Kolkata Knight Riders
The visitors may hold the upper hand in the head-to-head record; but KXIP have been a formidable force at home this season, having lost just once in Mohali. In the return clash, Kolkata were aided by the shorter boundaries at Eden Gardens but this time around the Shers’ spinners could be the ones who wreak havoc on the likes of Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Chris Lynn.
Batting da Baadshah
Opener KL Rahul has been a consistent performer for the Shers this season and is currently second on the race for the Orange Cap for the 2019 VIVO Indian Premier League with a good chance of toppling top-placed David Warner, who has already left for Australia. The 27-year-old batsman from Karnataka has scored three fifties at Mohali this season, with two of them coming in match-winning causes and would be his team’s lynchpin come Friday.
For the visitors, it has been all-rounder Andre Russell’s six hitting abilities that have bailed the side in previous matches. The West Indian has consistently scored quickfire 30-40 runs, which have ended up deciding the fate of games this season. So, keeping ‘Dre Russ’ quiet would be the necessary if the Shers are to continue their good run of form at home.
Bowling de Kings
Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has been one of the bowling mainstays for KXIP this season, consistently picking up wickets at the death with his precise yorkers. The 29-year-old has proved a tad expensive at times, but his experience and versatility with the ball will be a tricky challenge for the visiting Kolkata side.
While Kolkata Knight Riders have struggled with their bowling setup this season, Sunil Narine has proved to be a consistent customer having picked up 10 wickets, despite missing out a couple of games to injury. In a season where the KKR bowlers have conceded in excess of 180 runs cumulatively six times, Narine has managed to maintain a miserly economy rate of 7.84, making him the main threat for the KXIP batters.
Mudde ki Baat
Quite a lot has changed for both sides since they met in the first week of the IPL, as both sides have ended up losing more games than they have won thus in the IPL. The clash on Friday therefore becomes a must win for both teams if they are to keep their playoffs hopes alive.
For the Shers, keeping the dangerous Andre Russell would be their number one priority, as most of their other middle-order players like Rinku Singh and Dinesh Karthik have been blowing hot and cold this season. Shubman Gill has picked up some form over the last few games but performing in a crunch situation on Friday could be a totally different task.
The Shers will need to rely on their top three of Chris Gayle, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to score big if they are to get across the line in this must win game. The Mohali pitch would also aid the spin duo of Murugan Ashwin and Ravichandran Ashwin, both of who have had remarkable IPL seasons thus far. Also, the home advantage and the incredible crowd of Mohali could be the perfect motivation for Kings XI Punjab to win this encounter.
- KXIP have lost just once in Mohali in the last eight games.
- KL Rahul has had two successive seasons where he has scored in excess of 500 runs.
- Mohammed Shami has already picked up more wickets this season than in his last three years combined.
Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh.
In this do or die battle against KKR, the team management might resort to playing their most seasoned campaigners. This means Andrew Tye and Karun Nair, who have sizable IPL experience under the belt might get a look in. Arshdeep Singh would be expected to keep his place owing to the early swing that he tends to get at Mohali while Moises Henriques would be a welcome boost to the middle order if he passes the fitness test in time.
NOTE: The aforementioned line-up is an educated guess at best, and the final decision rests with the captain and the team management depending on various external factors.