Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders | Tuesday 19 April | Mohali| 16:30
Both sides come into this match having played three times this season, with the Knight Riders managing two wins to the Kings XI’s one. In last season’s tournament, Kolkata won this fixture twice by 4 wickets and 1 wicket respectively. Kolkata seem to have found a nice balance in their side but must be wary of becoming too inconsistent. Their two wins have come either side of the loss to the Mumbai Indians. Punjab started with back-to-back losses against the Gujarat Lions and Delhi Daredevils but were then able to pull off a convincing victory against a very good Pune side.
To Win Match
Kings XI Punjab 27/20 | Draw 35/1| Kolkata Knight Riders 3/5
Kings XI Punjab
Punjab’s batsmen have been a bit of a mixed bag this season. The openers have been excellent in two out of the three games and have put on two 50-run partnerships so far. The form of David Miller and Glenn Maxwell has been a concern for them, however the latter managed to play a good knock against Pune to see the side home over the weekend. Punjab will be hoping he carries on this way for a while to come. Miller, however, needs to come to the party; he is the captain of the side and has so far managed 31 runs in three innings – simply not good enough for a player of his calibre.
The bowlers have been a bit hindered by the fact that Punjab’s batsmen have not managed to set huge targets to defend so far and so they have found the going tough. Defending 162 against a Gujarat Lions team with Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina was always going to be difficult and defending 111 against a struggling Delhi side also proved too much. The one game in which they bowled first, against Pune, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and even Kyle Abbott bowled very well and picked up wickets at crucial stages against a good batting line-up which allowed the batsmen to successfully chase down a fairly modest target.
Punjab will be hoping that their openers can set a good platform for the rest of the batsmen to fire against the Knight Riders. They’ll need a big total against a Kolkata side who have shown just how dangerous they can be with bat in hand.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Knight Riders have started the tournament well claiming two wins to go along with their solitary loss. They can feel slightly hard done by with their loss against the Mumbai Indians as they ran into Rohit Sharma who was at his mercurial best. That performance shouldn’t deter the bowlers too much, especially seeing as they also to bowl out Delhi for under 100 and restrict the Sunrisers to fewer than 150. The batsmen have looked good too. Gautam Gambhir has been particularly good, and at the time of writing is the tournament’s top run scorer.
Kolkata’s batsmen have been able to fully express themselves in two of their three games so far, scoring 187 in a losing cause against Mumbai and chasing down 142 with relative ease against Hyderabad. The driving force in the line-up is Gambhir who has two fifties to go along with his 38 in their first game, expect another performance from him in this game. His opening partner, Robin Uthappa, has also been in decent form and has seen the Knight Riders get off to three good starts. Manish Pandey has also looked solid. The Kolkata franchise also have the services of Andre Russell to call on should they find themselves in a bit of trouble. Yusuf Pathan and Shakib al Hasan are two batsmen who are also more than capable of taking the game away from the opposition.
The Knight Riders’ bowlers were in fine form early on against Delhi, bowling their opponents out for 98. Against Mumbai the bowlers were taken apart by Sharma and Jos Buttler but managed to bounce back well against the Sunrisers in their last game. Sunil Narine looks like he will retain his place in favour of Hogg and it remains to be seen whether or not his re-worked bowling action will have a negative effect on his wicket taking ability. Andre Russell has had two good games so far with the ball but can be costly when his line and length is off.
Verdict: Kings XI Punjab at 27/20
I think Punjab’s win against Pune will give them a much-needed confidence boost. I expect Abbott, Miller and Maxwell to retain their places while Marcus Stoinis or Farhaan Behardien may replace Marsh in the side. I’m backing the middle order of Maxwell, Miller and Saha to come good in this game. I think that if the openers, who have been good so far, can set a good platform then Miller and Maxwell may come to life in front of their own supporters. Kolkata will be looking to remove one of Punjab’s openers early in order to get stuck in to the faltering middle order. That said, back the Kings XI to claim their second win on the season.