Kings XI hope for an encore against KKR
With their campaign back on track after back-to-back victories, Kings XI Punjab will look to build on the winning momentum when they clash with Kolkata Knight Riders on their home turf in the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Wednesday.
After two initial losses, KXIP bounced back with two consecutive victories -- one at home against Pune Warriors and the other against Kolkata at the Eden Gardens just two days back.
Having already beaten them at home -- by two-runs -- KXIP will start with more confidence against the Knight Riders.
Both sides had to taste two losses in as many games at the beginning before bouncing back.
Like Kings XI (four points from four matches), the Knight Riders (four points from five matches) went on to win the next two games before losing their fifth one.Another thing the two teams share is the inconsistent form of their top-order batsmen. That includes Kings XI skipper Adam Gilchrist, who scored five in the previous match, and is yet to hit a big knock.
Image: Adam Gilchrist
Hussey, Mandeep have strengthened Punjab's batting
His Australian compatriot Shaun Marsh also disappointed in the match against KKR, scoring just one run. The batting hero of last year's edition Paul Valthaty has also failed to impress so far and did not play the last match.
However, Mandeep Singh looked in good form and David Hussey's presence in the last game has bolstered the batting, with bowlers Piyush Chawla and Bipul Sharma showing they too can play some useful knocks.
Whether former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who according to Gilchrist had been given a visa last week, features against KKR or not remains to be seen.
Kings XI bowling attack has been improving as the tournament progresses. Though Praveen Kumar has not been a wicket-taking bowler, but he has done the job of containing the batsmen well.
Englishman Dimitri Mascarenhas has also been doing a decent job while medium pacer Harmeet Bansal has been bowling quite intelligently and was instrumental in the win his side tasted in the last match. Young Baroda spinner Bhargav Bhatt and all-round abilities of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla will also come handy for the Punjab team.
Image: David Hussey
KKR heavily dependent on openers
For the Knight Riders, too much dependence has been placed on the top order, including captain Gautam Gambhir and experienced South African campaigner Jacques Kallis and it's time for others to step up and be counted.
Gambhir had laid the blame on his middle-order batsmen for his side's loss to Kings XI after restricting them to 134, saying it's time they shoulder more responsibility.
As against Kings XI who won their lone home match so far, KKR have managed to win only one game out of three they have played so far at their home ground in Kolkata.
Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla and Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate have the capability to trouble Kings XI bowlers and the team will be hoping they turn the tables against Kings XI.
It will be interesting to see how KKR's young West Indian spinner Sunil Narine and Bangladeshi spinner Shakib Al Hasan bowl on the Mohali track, known for its bouncy nature.
Image: Gautam Gambhir
Punjab pacers dominated last match
Narine impressed all with his five-wicket haul against Kings XI and it will be interesting to watch how he is treated by the home side batsmen on Wednesday.
In the last match played on April 12 between Kings XI and Pune Warriors, pacers had dominated, with the home side's Dimitri Mascarenhas claiming five wickets.
The conditions in Mohali last week had been overcast and similar weather is set to prevail for the next two days with weather forecast predicting cloud cover, with the possibility of rain.
The Teams (From):
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (Capt), Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascarenhas, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Bipul Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, James Faulkner, Paul Valthaty, Bhargav Bhatt, Kyle Abbott, Love Ablish, Amit Yadav, Siddharth Chitnis, Ben Cutting, Paras Dogra, Gurkeerat Singh, Harmeet Singh, Ryan Harris, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, David Miller, Abhishek Nayar, Ramesh Powar, Nathan Rimmington, Nitin Saini, Shalabh Srivastava, Sunny Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (Capt), Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, Brendon McCullum (wk), Lakshmipathy Balaji, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla, Iqbal Abdulla, Shakib Al Hasan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, Pradeep Sangwan, Sarabjit Ladda, Debabrata Das, Marchant de Lange, Brad Haddin, Chirag Jani, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan, James Pattinson, Sanju Samson, Iresh Saxena, Shami Ahmed.
Image: Dimitri Mascarenhas