Indore: Kings XI Punjab will be aiming to consolidate their position in the top three of the Indian Premier League points table when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Both the sides are coming off a defeat and will be desperate to return to winning ways as the IPL reaches its business end.
While Punjab are placed third with 12 points in their kitty, Kolkata are fifth in the league table with 10 points.
Kolkata were hammered by Mumbai in their last encounter as the Rohit Sharma-led side registered a thumping 102-run victory over them. Punjab too, suffered a narrow 15-run loss to Rajasthan Royals in their last outing.
Punjab’s batting mostly relies on openers Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul as the duo have accumulated 471 and 311 runs respectively.
In the match against Rajasthan, when all of the Punjab batters failed to fire, Rahul rose to the occasion smashing an unbeaten 95 off 70 balls.
The openers have been a major reason behind Punjab’s success as they have provided perfect starts to their side on several occasions in this year’s edition.
Karun Nair has also been impressive, scoring 243 runs from nine innings, but veteran Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal are yet to make their presence felt in the middle order.
The trio’s poor form will be a major cause of concern for the team management and it is high time for them to come out with their best.
In the bowling department, skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and medium-pacer Mohit Sharma add depth to the line-up.
Also, pacers Barinder Sran and Andrew Tye, and Afghan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman shoulder the bulk of the responsibility.
While Australian Tye has 16 wickets from eight games with an economy of 7.77, pacer Ankit Rajpoot and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have eight and 14 wickets each.
On the other hand, Kolkata will need to put their humiliating loss to Mumbai behind them and come together as a unit if they want to seal a play-offs berth.
Kolkata, who now have little room for error, were handed their biggest defeat in the league’s history by Rohit Sharma’s men.
For the men in purple, openers Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine have failed to perform consistently.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik has been the only consistent batsman with the willow, amassing 321 runs from 11 matches.
Vice-captain Robin Uthappa will have to come up with an extraordinary show to help his side inch forward along with the misfiring middle order.
Kolkata, whose bowling unit mostly relies on the spinners, leaked plenty of runs against Mumbai Indians, with the exception of Narine.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has been decent with eight wickets from 11 games but he needs to dish out something special against Punjab.
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was too expensive against Mumbai, conceding 44 runs, has however, been among the wickets.
Overall, Punjab have a slightly better chance in Saturday’s game as they have made good comebacks in the past.