The Kings XI Punjab host the still unbeaten Sunrisers Hyderabad in a match that could finally end the latter’s frighteningly dominant displays. Chris Gayle’s return has rejuvenated the Kings into a batting force, while the SRH bowlers have ensured that no team has scored above 150 against them.
Still, Punjab’s bowling and SRH’s batting remain concerns for both teams. At Mohali, a good batting surface, Hyderabad’s batsmen have a chance to get good knock in to solidify the department beyond Dhawan and Williamson. Can SRH make it four in four, or will Punjab be the first team to beat them?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Rashid Khan, Ricky Bhui, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Mohammad Nabi, Basil Thampi, K Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Sachin Baby, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
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
On paper, SRH possess one of the strongest batting lineups in the tournament. They have Saha and Dhawan opening, and Williamson to follow along with Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, and Shakib Al Hasan. No team has this good a balance of batsmen who can play the anchor role, accelerate gears at a moments notice, or both. However, in the two matches the middle order has played so far, it has looked very shaky. Williamson and Dhawan have done a fine job at the top. The former scored a fifty against KKR and a 36 against Rajasthan, and Dhawan’s scores read 77, 45, 7. Saha has two twenties under his belt, but he needs to stay in the middle for longer and convert them. Hooda barely saved SRH against Mumbai, while Pathan and Shakib were resilient against KKR. At Mohali, Williamson could well bat first and give his players some freedom. The likes of Pandey and Shakib could use it, especially the former given his scores of 11 and 4 so far.
Along with having perhaps the best batting lineup, their bowling attack is world-class. Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads an attack comprising Billy Stanlake, Rashid Khan, Al Hasan, and Kaul. Khan has the second best economy in the tournament so far(5.58), second only to Sunil Narine. Shakib, Kaul, and Stanlake have taken 5 wickets each in 3 games so far, while Bhuvi has maintained an average economy of 7 in 2 games. His bowling average is just 14 too. This attack has been on fire recently, restricting all three of their oppositions to below 150 so far, and they have a realistic chance of doing it again with these figures.
Fantasy Picks: Take your pick from amongst the bowling attack. All of them are capable of something special, as they have proved in the recent matches. Williamson and Dhawan are easy options with the bat. Pandey is likely to be a worthy gamble for players online, given his caliber and recent form in South Africa just before the IPL. Pathan is a slightly risky pick as any fan would know, while Shakib’s all-round abilities make him a great pick.
Kings XI Punjab
Aaron Finch’s consecutive golden ducks right after his marriage has been fodder for several jokes on the internet, but don't take anything away from this batting order. KL Rahul is in red hot form for them at the top, while Gayle came in last match and scored 63 from 33. Agarwal has been getting good starts as well after his record breaking domestic season this year. Yuvraj has looked uncomfortable in the middle, but he played some good shots against CSK. Finch might have had two horrendous games, but any fan of the game knows what he can do. He is scintillating when on fire, and it is a matter of time before he gets going. Karun Nair has been solid in the lower middle order, even getting a fifty in the second match. Ashwin can always come in later and tonk a few balls himself. This rounds off a solid batting lineup with some very big hitters packed into the top five. It will be interesting to see how they combat SRH’s attack, and if Finch scores a hat-trick of ducks/golden ducks.
The Kings dropped Axar Patel for the last match in favour of pacer Barinder Sran. The move did not quite work as Sran ended up conceding at 9.25 with no wickets. The move is a little surprising since Patel was great in the match before against Bangalore with figures of 4-0-25-1. Ashwin might just bring him back in for this match, especially considering the success he and Mujeeb have enjoyed at home. Mohit Sharma has been a huge weak link for Punjab, consistently going over 10 an over in matches. Tye has also been expensive, leaving the spinners with too much to do in terms of stopping the flow of runs. Against a slightly shaky SRH batting, it is a good time to tighten the screws to pile some pressure on the batsmen and possibly win the match.
Fantasy Picks: Gayle, KL Rahul, and Ashwin are good picks from this team. Mayank Agarwal and Finch are X-factors of the game, especially the latter. Surely he wont fail thrice in a row. Nair is another solid pick who has been contributing to the teams score. Yuvraj is a risky pick, and so is Mohit Sharma.
Kings XI win. If one lineup can counter SRHs attack, it is the Kings with the kind of hitters in their lineup.
Who will come away with the win when Sunrisers Hyderabad take on the Kings XI Punjab? Let us know in the comments and poll below.