Struggling KXIP face KKR in a must-win game
Abu Dhabi: The ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season has almost reached its half-way mark and the KL Rahul-led Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are yet to find winnings ways. The bottom-of the-table team will now be up against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Saturday in what could be called a must-win game if they want to keep their play-offs hopes alive.
With just a single win from six games, KXIP seem to be over-reliant on skipper Rahul, opener Mayank Agarwal and pace bowler Mohammad Shami. Barring the trio, the rest of the players have failed to click.
Nicholas Pooran showed signs of the destruction he could cause in the middle-order in the game against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) but the Caribbean player needs to be consistent. Other hard-hitters like Glenn Maxwell have been completely silent so far.
In the bowling department, Shami has led from the front with nine wickets from six games. Arshdeep Singh and Sheldon Cottrell need to be consistent. Spin duo Ravi Bishnoi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be key.
The Dinesh Karthik-led KKR have six points from five games and will aim to consolidate their position in the top four of the points-table.
The KKR think-tank tinkered with the opening slot in their last game against Chennai Super Kings, promoting Rahul Tripathi up the order. The ploy worked. Tripathi played a blistering 51-ball 81-run knock but once again, the others failed to support him.
The KKR boast of some great cricketing talent with the likes of Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine in their ranks but they have struggled in the middle-order and that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
They were able to defend a moderate 168-run target against CSK, thanks to a collective show by their bowlers.
Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy and Narine were economical against CSK.
Of the 25 games the two sides have played against each other, KKR have managed 17 wins while KXIP merely eight.
Kolkata Knight Riders squad:
Dinesh Karthik (Captain), Eoin Morgan, Shubman Gill, Tom Banton, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Nikhil Naik, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Sandeep Warrier, Varun Chakravarthy and Siddhesh Lad
Kings XI Punjab squad:
KL Rahul (Captain), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Shami, Mujeeb Zadran, Sheldon Cottrell, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sarfraz Khan, K Gowtham, J Suchith, Ravi Bishnoi, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Dhillon, Prabhsimran Singh, Murugan Ashwin
Kings XI Punjab (Playing XI)
KL Rahul(c), Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Simran Singh(w), Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
Kolkata Knight Riders (Playing XI)
Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy
KKR - 19/2 (5 overs)
Mohammad Shami cleaned up Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana was run-out. KXIP's Arshdeep Singh was impressive as he gave away only two runs from his two overs. Meanwhile, Eoin Morgan has to play a special knock for KKR today.
KKR - 60/2 (10 overs)
Shubman Gill (27) and Eoin Morgan (23) look in control after the fall of early wickets. Meanwhile, Morgan also completed 1,000 runs in IPL.
KKR - 101/3 (15 overs)
Shubman Gill completes his half-century. Captain Dinesh Karthik (14) is in the middle and with Andre Russel to come, a strong finish is very much on the cards.
The chase begins!
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are at the crease. Rahul is on strike. Cummins will open the attack for KKR!
Score after 5 overs: KXIP (36-0)
A good start for Punjab. Both Rahul and Agarwal are careful with the wickets, and they should be if they want to complete the chase.
Score after 10 overs: KXIP (76-0)
This is exactly what Punjab needs. Stability in the top-order. Moreso, when their middle-order is not performing up the mark. Can the openers see out the chase?
Score after 15 overs: KXIP (117-1)
Kolkata has finally managed to pick a wicket. (Agarwal c Shubman Gill b Prasidh 56(39) [4s-6 6s-1])
Pooran is now at the crease. The remaining chase is an easy one for Punjab and their high hitting batsmen.