A one-third of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been concluded, and the points table this year has raised more eyebrows than it has ever before.
The tournament is, of course, known for immense and wide-open competition, however, a few positions have certainly been baffling enough for people to scratch their heads. For instance, the Kings XI Punjab, which is stationed at the last position of the tally has played much better than what their position suggests.
Despite having their moments, luck has not favoured KL Rahul’s charges, and they have found themselves in uncomfortably harsh situations. Barring the last couple of encounters of KXIP– where they were completely outsmarted once by the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) en route to a 69-run loss, and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who smacked them to win by 10 wickets, they have been in winnable positions in almost every encounter. Though only to give it up in the end.
Furthermore, KXIP has not been able to strike the right team combination too. Making at least one change in every game they have featured in, the team management has given a statement of instability in the side.
The duties inside the team have not looked settled either, especially in the slot of wicket-keeping, where Punjab has tried as many as three options in the 6 matches played hitherto. With the tournament progressing towards a decisive stage, the team would want to cater to their problems sooner than later.
On the other hand, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have scripted their story lukewarmly so far. With three victories in five games, the team looks to be in control of things. In their last game, KKR pulled off a victory from a completely misplaced situation against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
However, more than KKR’s brilliance, it was their opponent’s shoddiness that contributed to their victory. Batting first, KKR posted 167 runs on the board: an underwhelming target, at least by this year’s standards. Where it once looked that CSK would hunt it down without breaking a sweat, a couple of crucial wickets thwarted the Yellow Army’s ambition to make it two in two.
The puddle of issues for KKR has not been small either, as they are yet to cement their batting order. It seems that the ploy of pairing Rahul Tripathi with Shubman Gill could be the way ahead, however, promoting Sunil Narine over Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, and skipper Dinesh Karthik himself brought Karthik in the line of fire once again.
Facing off each other on Saturday, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, both the teams will have quite a few boxes to tick, however, KXIP will be desperately keen to bring themselves back on track.
Pitch and conditions
The track Abu Dhabi has given quite even contest between the bat and the ball. The batsmen who have bided their time in the middle have been able to reap the results.
There has been a hint of movement on offer with the new ball, whereas the spinners are becoming more dominant as the tournament is progressing, and the tracks are getting slightly tired. In their last encounter, KKR managed to defend a moderate total, and both the teams will keep that in mind at the toss.
Playing Combinations for KXIP vs KKR
Kolkata Knight Riders Probable 11
After a continuously misfiring opener in Sunil Narine, KKR finally gave a green signal to Rahul Tripathi, who paid instant dividends through his 81-run blinder.
Much to the team’s disappointment, no other batsman, apart from Tripathi, was able to hold himself, and hence, the team registered a low total. With the openers’ slot looking fixed, the question that the management needs to answer is the position of Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, and Eoin Morgan.
Youngsters Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, and Varun Chakravarthy have impacted well with their performances, although Pat Cummins has still not looked at his best. His figures of 25 for none in the last game were economical, though an empty column of wickets would pinch him as well as the team.
Probable 11- Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (C & WK), Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
Kings XI Punjab Probable 11
It seems that the time for including the Universe Boss in their ranks has arrived for the KXIP unit. The openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have been in blistering form. Although both of them failed to fire in the last encounter against SRH. The team made as many as three changes, though that did not change their fortunes even one bit.
Despite the heroics of Nicholas Pooran, the team floundered under pressure and no batsman was able to play a second fiddle to Pooran. The addition of Arshdeep Singh boded well as the young pacer launched a flurry of yorkers and bagged a couple of wickets, although Mujeeb Ur Rahman leaked runs in plenty during his spell. Surprisingly, Mohammed Shami had a rare off outing as he went for runs too, and his partner Sheldon Cottrell returned wicket-less.
Probable 11- KL Rahul (C), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Simran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh/Deepak Hooda, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell.
KXIP vs KKR Head to Head
Played- 25 | KXIP won- 8 | KKR won- 17 | NR- 0
Match Timings- 3:30 PM (IST), 2:00 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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