Dubai: It will be a do-or-die battle for at least three of the teams in the fray for the play-offs in the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday.
Kings XI Punjab will have to first win against the already knocked out Chennai Super Kings in the early match in Abu Dhabi, and then wait for the outcome of the late game as Kolkata Knight Riders take on high-flying Rajasthan Royals in Dubai.
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Punjab’s chances of a top-four finish took a serious hit following their seven-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals that snapped their impressive five match-winning streak, late on Friday.
That defeat only means Punjab will have to pick up the two points against three-time champions Chennai and then wait for the other results and fate to decide if they are to secure a spot in the play-offs.
The MS Dhoni-led Chennai team will be aiming to end their dismal campaign on a high. They have shown enough indications to further press for late points after back-to-back wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Of prime importance, however, will be the other results. If Sunrisers Hyderabad — currently in seventh place with 10 points — win their last two games and end with 14 points, then their chances for the play-offs will be much better than the rest due to their better net run-rate of +0.396.
However, if the Sunrisers are beaten in any match, then KXIP — who are currently placed fourth with 12 points from 13 outings and a net run rate of -0.133 — will have a great chance of qualifying, provided they win against CSK on Sunday.
CSK seem to have discovered a bit of form with 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad showing a lot of promise while coming up with two back-to-back half centuries in their last two wins. Handyman Ravindra Jadeja has been in fantastic form, the last time smashing boundaries and sixes towards the end of the innings in the CSK triumphs.
The CSK bowling unit has been boosted with the inclusion of New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santer, and the Kiwi has done well to keep the momentum going.
Kings XI skipper KL Rahul has been a picture of consistency as he continues at the top of the run-scorers’ chart with an astounding 641 runs. Out of the competition in the first half, the entry of the flamboyant Chris Gayle has shown why his presence counts as the Kings went into a five-match winning streak that ended against the Rajasthan Royals late on Friday.
And even though the KXIP’s bowling has been at the top of their game, they would do well to be at their best against a Chennai team that powered briskly to a ten-wicket win in their previous encounter.
Equally keen for maximum points will be the Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals when they meet in the late evening game in Dubai.
Currently slipping by a spot and moving into sixth, the Kolkata team is with 12 points — the same as Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals.
The Rajasthan Royals gave themselves an outside chance following their win against Kings XI late on Friday. And while they will be hoping to maintain that winning momentum, the Rajasthan Royals will need to pray that the other results also go in their favour — with the best-case scenario for the inaugural edition champions being that the Kings XI lose their last match and the Sunrisers Hyderabad don’t win more than one of their last two outings.