The Kings XI Punjab face the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Holkar Stadium in Indore as they look to equalize CSK on points and sneak into the top two. KKR are coming from a massive 102 run loss against Mumbai, and cannot afford to lose the plot at this stage of the tournament.
KKR’s patchiness has been a major bane to their success as their batting and bowling both failing. But, the Kings have an overly vulnerable middle order, and early wickets could make life difficult for them. Can KKR capitalize on their weakness, or will KXIP put KKRs playoff chances in serious jeopardy?
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran, Prasidh Krishna.
Kings XI Punjab
Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
Where the teams stand
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR might need to make some hard choices in the face of back-breaking injuries to Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, and the constant hamstring concerns of Russell. Lynn has failed to give KKR decent starts at the top, and it might not be a bad idea to play Cameron Delport, an underrated journeyman of T20 cricket world-wide. Narine too has put the middle order under pressure with early dismissals. The persistence with selecting Rinku Singh is another questionable decision. Dinesh Karthik has lacked the tactical vision of Gautam Gambhir which was so instrumental in KKRs success, not just with his batting order, but the rotation of bowlers as well.
KKRs bowling department has taken a severe beating this season due to injures, with four top bowlers all ruled out. Narine has been amongst the wickets, but a lack of support has meant he has gone for plenty. Kuldeep and Chawla have been disappointing, and KKR have no reserve spinners to cover for them. Curran and Russell have been amongst the wickets, but the former has been expensive, and the former can only strain his hamstring so much. KKR have been hampered extensively by injuries, but that is no excuse for their performances. They have good chance of exploiting KXIPs obvious weakness, but whether they do so remains to be seen.
Fantasy Picks: Narine and DK are obvious picks from this side. The rest are all a gamble, but Uthappa has looked in good touch in recent games.
Kings XI Punjab
Punjab are increasingly dependent on their openers to single-handedly take them to victory. Stoinis has been effective at some late hitting, but the middle order has been far too brittle and prone to collapses. Karun Nair too has been good in bursts, but he has struggled to convert them into big innings’. Another decision from Ashwin that one struggles to rationalize is sending Axar Patel ahead of Stoinis. Punjab need their bast batsmen at the top, and after the openers, Stoinis and Nair are their best bets
KXIPs attack has been inconsistent in their performances, largely relying on how Tye and Mujeeb perform. Mujeeb four overs have been making the difference for Punjab, with Tye the leading wicket taker of the tournament so far with 16 wickets and an average economy of 7.77. The rest have been patchy, with at least one bowler conceding at over 12 every match. KKR’s batting has been exposed too many times this season, and KXIPs bowlers can really exploit this as other teams have.
Fantasy Picks: Chris Gayle and KL Rahul are no-brainers. Mujeeb and Tye too have been dominant with the ball, while Stoinis and Nair have been the next most consistent with the bat.
KXIP win. KKR dug a hole for themselves when they chose to restrict their squad to 19 players, and are paying the price for it.
Will Kings XI Punjab grab the win or could the Knight Riders overcome the odds? Let us know in the comments and poll below.