Match Preview: King XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Rider
Venue and Conditions:
On Saturday, two bollywood stars Preety Zinta and Shahrukh Khan will face each other on cricket ground. Preety’s Kings XI Punjab will play Shahrukh’s Kolkata Knight Kolkata Knight Riders at the Mohali ground in Chandigarh. Both the sides are struggling to get into the top four in the points table, with Punjab having won only one game out of the five matches they have played while Kolkata won two.
Kolkata had had a good start to the tournament with two upset victories against defending champions Deccan Chargers and last edition runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore. KKR’s sudden batting woes at the top means that they have lost three successive games.
However, it has been worse for the Kings XI Punjab, who lost three matches to start their campaign before scraping through one and that too via a one-over eliminator against Chennai Super Kings and then going down in another one. For Kings, nothing seemed to be going right and they are now at the bottom of the points table.
Kolkata had a reasonable start in their previous game against Mumbai, but the surprising bit was that despite the presence of Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle as openers, the run-rate was pretty low. Ganguly looks like a pale shadow of himself and it would make sense for him to promote a right-handed batsman up the order instead of himself. He may also consider the Brad Hodge and Owais Shah swap, with Hodge having had shown signs of good form.
In the bowling department, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik has been the most consistent while New Zealand pacer Shane Bond has also done a decent job so far. Pacer Ishant Sharma though has been expensive. Gayle’s fast off-breaks, with which he often restricts the batsmen, are also a bonus for his side. Though the bowlers have done a reasonable job so far, it is the batting which the KKR needs to prop up to fancy chances against Kings XI.
King’s batting has let the team down most of the time while bowlers too have struggled to contain the opposition. Barring one 40-plus knock, batting mainstay Yuvraj Singh has flopped while captain Kumar Sangakkara has failed to make any mark so far. Mahela Jayawardene also has not had a good run and the team would be now looking desperately to include Australian Shaun Marsh, who has joined the side but was not included in the last game.
Yuvraj Singh’s on-field problems have been compounded by his security-breach issues and it will be interesting to see whether he actually plays in the game. It will be a big blow if he does not, as Kumar Sangakkara is struggling for runs, whereas the needed firepower seems to be missing from the rest of the batsmen. Mahela Jayawardene’s lack of form could signal a break for him, while Irfan Pathan could still be tried in the first six overs if a wicket falls early.
In the bowling department, pacers Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth have failed to impress and had it not been for little-known South African pacer Juan Theron, Kings XI would have lost against CSK in the one-over eliminator. Brett Lee is tipped to play in the game, and that could just tilt the scales in Punjab’s favour.
Favorites: Kings XI Punjab
Batsman to watch: Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Gayle
Bowler to watch: Brett Lee and Murali Kartik
1st Match: King XI (178/6) beat KKR (169/6) by 9 runs
2nd Match: King XI (174/6) lost to KKR (175/7) by 3 wkts
1st Match: King XI (158/6) lost to KKR (79/1) by 11 runs (D/L)
2nd Match: King XI (154/4) beat KKR (153/3) by 6 wkts