Scripting one of the most inspirational redemption tales, the shaky Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have managed to get into the groove with four wins on the trot. Once reeling at the bottom of the table with only one win after seven games, KL Rahul’s men bounced back in style to notch up the adventure in the points tally, and it seems that they have finally learned the art of closing the games.
The team made a rousing comeback to snap a five-match losing streak after winning against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and they have defeated the top two teams in the tournament – Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals- in their following fixtures. In this game, they are entering after a come-from-behind victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Despite posting an under par total of 126 on the board, the bowlers stood up magnificently for the team to snatch a 12-run victory from the jaws of defeat. Placed fifth on the table with five wins in 11 encounters, KXIP would certainly fancy making an entry in the top four when they meet the reviving Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Monday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
For KKR, the problems have been many but none bigger than the lack of intent and consistency in their shows. Furthermore, they kept meddling their top-order before finally arriving at one combination, although once they did, the returns from the Rahul Tripathi and Shubman Gill started fluctuating.
A misfiring Andre Russell, who has been out due to an injury, has been another one of their major concerns along with the underwhelming run of Pat Cummins. Moreover, the diminishing dividends from Dinesh Karthik, who has not been able to respond with the bat despite giving up on captaincy, has injected some unsettledness in the middle-order too.
The many problems, notwithstanding, the KKR managed to trounce the Delhi Capitals by a massive margin of 59 runs in their last fixture. Having posted 194 for six courtesy of the scintillating knocks from Nitish Rana (81 from 53) and Sunil Narine (64 from 32), KKR dominated the game with the ball as well. The searing bowling of Varun Chakravarthy, who bagged a five-wicket haul, led the team to a clinical win.
While both the teams are coming after a win in their last encounters, they must be wary of the fact that some fierce competition awaits them, and each point from here will make a difference.
Pitch and conditions
The track at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has slowed down considerably and has been slightly two-paced of late. The same was manifest in the last game when CSK struggled with the bat, although their opponents gunned down the target without breaking a sweat. The bowlers have certainly had a say in the last few games here, unlike the initial days, and that would continue in this game as well.
Playing Combinations for KKR vs KXIP
Kolkata Knight Riders
The move of promoting Sunil Narine over Eoin Morgan raised many eyebrows in the last game, although the strategy worked as Narine’s punching counterattack against the spinners in a crucial and match-changing partnership with Nitish Rana did the trick for the team. The latter, who was struggling to get into the groove this year, must be content with his sublime 81-run knock and would look to continue in the same vein.
Although the question about a misfiring opening combination and some tastelessness in the middle-order continues to be an area where the KKR think-tank needs to ponder and deliberate quickly. The uncapped wonder Varun Chakravarthy has proved his mettle, and he would be keen to bowl with the same guile.
The sooner Pat Cummins hits his lethal best, the better it would be for KKR, who have been lacking the zing in their bowling unit this year barring the odd encounter.
Probable XI- Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan (C), Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy
Kings XI Punjab
It is unlikely that Mayank Agarwal will be available to partner KL Rahul at the top pertaining to his bruised knee. In his absence, KXIP should continue with Mandeep Singh. The presence of the swashbuckling Universe Boss seems to have been the lucky charm for the team as Punjab have not lost a game ever since his inclusion!
Nicholas Pooran has been in fine touch, though he found himself little constrained in the last game. The feeblest link in the KXIP unit has been their lack of discipline with the ball as barring Mohammed Shami and Ravi Bishnoi, no one has been able to make an impression. But the team must be mighty pleased by the inspirational bowling at the death in the last game that managed them to pull off a sheer heist.
Chris Jordan deserves a special mention for his immaculate bowling and three-wicket haul whereas the spin duo of Bishnoi and M Ashwin suffocated SRH in the middle overs.
Probable XI- KL Rahul (C & WK), Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
KKR vs KXIP Head to Head
Played- 26 | KKR won- 18 | KXIP won- 8 | NR- 0
Match Timings- 7:30 PM (IST), 6:00 PM (Local).
TV– Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 1 Hindi
Live Streaming– Disney + Hotstar VIP
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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