Basement teams battle to salvage pride as KXIP take on Pune

Mohali: Placed at the bottom of the points table, Kings XI Punjab meet Pune Warriors in a battle of the basement teams desperately looking for a win to salvage some pride in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.

For Kings XI, who have suffered five losses from eight games including four in a row, last night`s 85-run crushing defeat at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore would be weighing heavy on their mind.

However, they still have six games left and have slim hopes to make it to the play-off stage while Pune`s campaign is all but over after having suffered seven losses from their nine outings.

In Yuvraj Singh`s Pune, all eyes would be on former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who recently replaced injured Ashish Nehra in the side. The experienced left-hander, who might play tomorrow, is expected to boost the sagging morale of the team.

Pune had a rollicking start to their campaign and Yuvraj led the new franchise to an emphatic win against his erstwhile team Kings XI, but the seven losses on the trot after two wins have been demoralising.

After being cold-shouldered by Kolkata Knight Riders, the 38-year-old Ganguly has a point to prove and going by the number of hours he has been putting here in the nets during the past couple of days, he should be seen in action tomorrow.

It is a crucial game for the Adam Gilchrist-led KXIP as they are languishing at the ninth place with just six points and find themselves in a must-win situation tomorrow to keep their thin hopes alive for a place in the qualifiers.

Gilchrist, rising star Paul Valthaty and Shaun Marsh have earlier displayed in the tournament their capability to tear apart any bowling side on their day, but it has also been the bane for Punjab side as the batting has been heavily depending on these three.

Kings XI, which had managed to reach the semi-finals in the opening edition of the IPL, have lost steam after making an impressive start to the tournament.

Since winning three games on the trot, the side have lost five.

Punjab`s batting has simply not been up to the mark despite Mumbaikar Valthaty`s early heroics and Gilchrist`s once-in-a-while pyrotechnics.

The bowling has also looked ordinary, with medium pacer Praveen Kumar and leg spinner Piyush Chawla failing to impress and domestic player Luv Ablish proving a disaster in the last game.

But nothing has been going right for Pune either with skipper Yuvraj Singh admitting that he has no clue as to what is the reason behind Warriors` unending misery in the IPL. In their last match, Pune lost by 21 runs to Mumbai Indians.

Their overseas players have not been in the best of touch with the bat for quite a while now, while domestic ones too have not really fired, putting too much pressure on Yuvraj and Robin Uthappa to steer the batting.

It has been debated that Yuvraj should bat at number 3 spot, and with experienced Ganguly in the side now, it remains to be seen if the Chandigarh player would oblige.

The 24-year-old leg spinner Rahul Sharma, who gave away just seven runs in four overs and took two wickets against Mumbai, has been quite a find and overseas bowler Jerome Taylor has also been impressive.

Teams (from):

Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (c), Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Love Ablish, Mandeep Singh, Nitin Saini, Paras Dogra, Paul Valthaty, Shalabh Srivastava, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh, Vikramjeet Malik, Amit Yadav, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Nathan Rimmongton, Ryan Harris, Ryan McLaren, David Miller.

Pune Warriors: Yuvraj Singh (c), Robin Uthappa, Murali Kartik, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Deeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Ganesh Gaikwad, Harpreet Singh Bhatia, Harshad Khadiwale, Kamran Khan, Mithun Manhas, Mohnish Mishra, Rahul Sharma, Sachin Rana, Shrikant Wagh, Shrikant Mundhe, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jesse Ryder, Graeme Smith, Wayne Parnell, Alphonso Thomas, Tim Paine, Callum Ferguson, Mitchell Marsh, Jerome Taylor, James Faulkner.