With three games to go for them in the group stages, Punjab Kings have their backs to the wall in the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League. KL Rahul’s side can afford no more slip-ups, as they now have to win all their remaining matches, starting with the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday evening at the Dubai International Stadium. 

Aamne Saamne

Kolkata Knight Riders

Punjab Kings

19 wins

9 wins

Kolkata Knight Riders have a better head-to-head record, and also won the previous encounter between the two sides in 2021. The spoils however were shared between these two sides last season, with both franchises winning a game apiece in the group stages. KL Rahul would hope for a repeat of such an outcome this time around too, so as to stay afloat in the competition. 

KKR have been the team in form in the UAE leg of the 2021 IPL, winning three of their last four games. Punjab Kings however could be a tough nut to crack on their day, and if their batsmen can get going, the 2014 finalists would fancy their chances on Friday. 

Batting de Baadshah

Rahul Tripathi

KL Rahul

315 runs

422 runs

Rahul Tripathi tops the runs chart for Kolkata Knight Riders, with two fifties so far in the competition and a healthy strike rate of almost 150. The stylish right hander’s form has been one of the reasons behind Kolkata’s revival in the UAE leg of the competition. With seasoned campaigners like Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell to follow up in the batting order, Tripathi has been given the full license to play on the front foot right from the get go, and the results are for all to see. 

Another Rahul tops the charts in the opposition camp, as Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul remains hot on the heels of Orange Cap holder Shikhar Dhawan. The 29-year-old has had two sub par outings with the bat against SRH and Mumbai Indians, and would be rearing to put those bad games away come Friday at the Dubai International Stadium, a venue where he performed very well in 2020. 

Bowling de Kings

Prasidh Krishna

Mohammed Shami

12 wickets

14 wickets

Prasidh Krishna has reposed the faith placed on him by his franchise by delivering good performances throughout the 2021 season. The Indian pacer has regularly picked up wickets at the death with his many variations, and will be a threat to Punjab Kings as well who have been found wanting with the bat in their last two games. 

Mohammed Shami averages a wicket every 17 balls in the IPL this season, and has been the Punjab Kings talisman with his precise bowling in the powerplay and the death overs. The seamer has also bettered his economy rate this season, and with fellow pacers Arshdeep Singh and Nathan Ellis also chipping in with handy contributions, Shami would be primed for another strong performance with ball in hand. 

Mudde di Baat

The game holds more importance for Punjab Kings, who need a win to stay alive in the competition. A win for Kolkata Knight Riders will however strengthen their claim to the top four, while all but eliminating KL Rahul’s team in the process. With the points precariously poised, both sides wouldn’t want to end on the losing side on Friday. 

Yaad Rakhiyo

  • KL Rahul is the leading run getter in the IPL at the Dubai International Stadium. 
  • Harpreet Brar has the third best economy for any Punjab Kings player ever in the IPL to have bowled over 10 overs in a season.
  • Rahul Tripathi has been dismissed twice by Mohammed Shami in the IPL, while he has managed to score just 15 runs against him. 

Probable XI

KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Aiden Markram, Mandeep Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Fabian Allen, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Nathan Ellis, Arshdeep Singh. 

The team management would want to make some alterations to their overseas players, so as to fit Fabian Allen and Chris Jordan into the side and give them an opportunity to influence games. Harpreet Brar too could miss out so as to better the team balance and allow them to play four seamers and two spin options. 

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.