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Kolkata v Punjab, Match 46- Preview
Kings XI Punjab are on a roll with four consecutive wins. Kolkata Knight Riders have bagged a big win over Delhi Capitals at the right time to steady their shaky campaign. With three games to go, both KKR and KXIP now cannot afford any slipups as they chase a spot in the top four.
Three of four KXIP's win have come in Dubai but they convincingly trounced Royal Challengers Bangalore the last time they played in Sharjah. KKR, on the other hand, haven't quite cracked the Sharjah code with two big losses - against DC and RCB. As KL Rahul's men gear up to level with KKR, the contest could well have a final say in which team takes the fourth spot in the table once the league stage gets over.
Brendon McCullum has time and again urged his batsmen to show some intent. While Nitish Rana shrugged off his poor form, problems persist with both Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi. Sunil Narine's return brought some much-needed runs in the middle-overs but Dinesh Karthik, who has managed scores of 30, 0, 1, 6, 12, 58, 1, 4, 29*, 4 and 3, hasn't been able to find lost form despite giving up his captaincy. Eoin Morgan called the game against DC the "near-perfect game". But he's well aware the team is still carrying some misfiring ammunition with the batting department.
For KXIP, the resurgence has been led by the bowlers, especially at the death overs. Their stunning 12-run come-from-behind win was an example of how the bowling unit is now overshadowing the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. The think-tank, however, might feel that the struggling Glenn Maxwell is soon becoming a liability with the bat having faced 100 balls for his 102 runs this season. Stunningly, he's yet to hit a six so far.
While the two teams have found wins at crucial stages, they are far from delivering a perfect game. That perfect show, however, can't wait anymore if they are to entertain hopes of challenging the top three once they make it to the playoffs.
What: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab, Match 46, 6 pm local time, 730 pm IST
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
What to expect: In the last match in Sharjah, CSK struggled with the bat while Mumbai Indians cruised to a ten-wicket win with ease. While it isn't the batting paradise anymore, and has a bit for the bowlers, teams would still aim for a score around the 160-170 mark. Dew factor is likely to play a part as well in what the captains choose to do.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Andre Russell watched the game against DC from the stands. He's nursing a hamstring strain and is unlikely to be rushed back. If fit, KKR think-tank has a serious task on their hand on deciding which overseas player they can drop.
Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan (c), Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy.
Kings XI Punjab: Mayank Agarwal was injured in the last game and if he's able to make a quick recovery, he should ideally come in for Mandeep Singh. KXIP also need to have a serious look at Maxwell's form.
Probable XI: KL Rahul (c, wk), Mayank Agarwal/Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell/James Neesham, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, M Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh.
What they said:
"It's the most complete performance as a group. The timing of it couldn't be any better. Playing against a team, which is second, tough opposition coming towards the business end of the tournament is huge for us" - Eoin Morgan.
"You can't change much in a player in two months but you can always make them mentally better and that's what coach Kumble, Andy, Charl, Jonty and Wasim have done. Even when we were sitting on the bottom of the table we didn't panic. We kept scrapping and we're really happy that the wins are coming" - KL Rahul.
Kings XI Punjab Squad: KL Rahul(w/c), Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Krishnappa Gowtham, James Neesham, Sheldon Cottrell, Sarfaraz Khan, Hardus Viljoen, Jagadeesha Suchith, Ishan Porel, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Tajinder Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Simran Singh, Harpreet Brar
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik(w), Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan(c), Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Kuldeep Yadav, Sandeep Warrier, Siddhesh Lad, Nikhil Naik, Tim Seifert, Chris Green, Rinku Singh, Ali Khan, Tom Banton, Shivam Mavi, Manimaran Siddharth
RR won by 8 wkts
CSK won by 8 wkts
SYS Women won by 9 wkts (DLS method)