IPL 2020: Can the Kings XI Punjab fight history to end their slump?
Kings XI Punjab walk into the game desperate to avoid a fifth loss, which would send them dangerously close to the must-win territory. Kolkata however, would be looking for a third win to edge ahead o ...
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle, Nicolas Pooran and Sheldon Cottrell are the five Caribbeans set to be a part of Saturday's first clash between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Kings XI Punjab walk into the game desperate to avoid a fifth loss, which would send them dangerously close to the must-win territory. Kolkata however, would be looking for a third win to edge ahead of the three teams stuck at 6 points in the middle of the table.
KXIP, under Rahul's leadership, have been haunted by familiar ghosts, the inability to decide on their preferred team combination. KL Rahul has, at every toss, announced significant changes to the playing XI. Chennai Super Kings, even when they were in a similar situation, have made only forced changes to the team. In Punjab's case however, no one has managed to settle in.
Amongst all the chopping and changing, the in-form captain KL Rahul's role has changed to that of the anchor, in-turn affecting his strike rate at the top. And the fact that KXIP have only managed to win 3 of their last 14 games against KKR would not help them either.
Even in this game, Chris Gayle is almost confirmed to take Glenn Maxwell's place. The universe boss was all set to make his first appearance in the last game, but missed out because of fitness concerns.
KKR however, have managed to find their groove after making some tough decisions. Sunil Narine has finally been relieved of opening duties and is likely to be used as a floater. Rahul Tripathi, who replaced him at the top, played a brilliant innings of 81 in the last game. Kuldeep Yadav, the premier Indian spinner has also been dropped.
KKR's main point of concern would be that Andre Russell has not performed with the bat, significantly weakening the team's middle order. With Dinesh Karthik not getting amongst the runs either, they need to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
With dew not being a factor, both the teams might consider playing an extra spinner. If the captains choose to go with that tactic, Murugan Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav are likely to replace any of the Indian seamers.
Punjab resorting to their signature 'chopping and changing' would not be much of a surprise either.
KXIP: Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (C), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Prabhsimran Singh, Mandeep Singh, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh/M Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Sheldon Cottrell, Mohammad Shami
KKR: Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (C, wk), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy