Kings XI Punjab are well and truly on a roll after clinching three wins from four games in the ongoing edition of the VIVO Indian Premier League. After securing the fortress that is Mohali with three wins, KXIP will now play their remaining home games at Indore, but not before playing a run of three away games, the first of which will be against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens on Saturday.
Kings XI Punjab 7-14 Kolkata Knight Riders
Batting de Baadshah
|Chris Gayle for KXIP
|Nitish Rana for KKR
Chris Gayle has truly set the stage on fire with his big shots and KXIP are all the merrier for it. With two match-winning innings of a half century and a century each, the big man from Jamaica has already smashed his way into the race for the Orange Cap in just two games.
Building on his impressive performances for Mumbai Indians last season, Nitish Rana has impressed one and all for Kolkata Knight Riders too, this year. Batting in the middle order, this young southpaw has the knack of finding the boundary with ease, and is not afraid of playing the big shots even in crunch situations.
Bowling de Kings
|Andrew Tye for KXIP
|Sunil Narine for KKR
After a barren outing in the first match, Andrew Tye has gone on to pick 5 wickets from the next three matches. Mohit Sharma has picked 5 wickets too, but Tye’s impressive economy rate of 8.43 sees him ahead in the list. With off and leg cutters and the famous knuckle ball in his arsenal, Tye has been a tricky customer to deal with.
He might have gone for plenty in his last outing against Rajasthan Royals, but Sunil Narine still remains the most lethal bowler for KKR with his variations in spin. Picking 7 wickets from 4 matches at a frugal economy rate of 6.84 is no mean feat and negotiating with this Trinidadian spinner is key for any batting side.
Mudde ki baat
Kolkata Knight Riders enjoy a dominant record over Kings XI Punjab, winning exactly double the matches that they have lost against them. But with a fresh-look KXIP side looking as hungry as ever for wins, records could easily fly out the window. All in all, the contest at Eden Gardens should be an exciting one, as both teams have 6 points in the bag so far.
An impressive Kings XI Punjab side has been bolstered even more with the addition of Chris Gayle in the last two matches. With Lokesh Rahul and Karun Nair also getting among the runs, the side has been posting good totals in all their games. While the spin bowlers stole the limelight in the first few games, the pacers have shown that they are not to be counted out either in the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran have all been doing well, making this a well rounded unit with options off the bench as well.
Kolkata Knight Riders have often been questioned about their batting order with the likes of Shubman Gill batting at No. 7 as a finisher. But as they say, if it isn’t broken, don't fix it. With Chris Lynn opening the innings alongside Sunil Narine, at least one of the two dashers gets going in every match, and with Robin Uthappa, Rana, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell to follow, there is good depth and variety too. With the ball, there is great heterogeneity in the attack, with three frontline spinners and pacers alike, along with other part-time options like Rana.
- This could be Chris Gayle’s first match in KXIP threads against a former team.
- With 24 wickets and best bowling figures of 5/19, Sunil Narine is the most successful bowler in this tie.
- With 8 wickets and an economy rate of 6.16, Axar Patel has been extremely effective against KKR.
Who could play?
KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Expect the KXIP line-up to be vastly unchanged from the previous game. A drier track at the Eden Gardens could see Axar Patel come back into the side if he is fit, and Mohit Sharma or Baridner Sran might have to make way for that. Aaron Finch could retain his spot after getting the monkey off his back, but David Miller as a left-hander and Marcus Stoinis as an all-rounder provide more options based on the strategies adopted.
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.