Kings XI look to build on winning momentum
After two initial losses, KXIP bounced back with two consecutive victories – one at home against Pune Warriors and the other against tomorrow`s opponents at the Eden Gardens just two days back.
Having beaten the same opponents at their home bastion, though with a narrow two-run margin, KXIP would start tomorrow`s match at the PCA Stadium with more confidence while the Knight Riders would look to make it even score. Both sides have some things in common as each had to taste two losses in as many games at the beginning before bouncing back.
Like Kings XI (four points from four matches), the Knight Riders (four points from five matches) went on to win the next two games before losing their fifth game. Another thing the two teams share is the inconsistent form of their top-order batsmen. That includes Kings XI skipper Adam Gilchrist, who made five in the previous match, and is yet to hit a big knock.
His Australian compatriot Shaun Marsh also disappointed in the match against KKR, making just one run. The batting hero of last year`s edition Paul Valthaty has failed to impress so far and did not play the last match.
However, Mandeep Singh looked in good form and David Hussey`s presence in the last game has bolstered the batting, with bowlers Piyush Chawla and Bipul Sharma showing they too can play some useful knocks.
Whether former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who according to Gilchrist had been given a visa last week, features against KKR or not remains to be seen.
Kings XI bowling attack has been improving as the tournament progresses. Though Praveen Kumar has not been a wicket-taking bowler, but he has done the job of containing the batsmen well.
Englishman Dimitri Mascarenhas has also been doing a decent job while medium pacer Harmeet Bansal has been bowling quite intelligently and was instrumental in the win his side tasted in the last match. Young Baroda spinner Bhargav Bhatt and all-round abilities of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla will also come handy for the Punjab team.
For the Knight Riders, too much dependence has been put on the top order, including captain Gautam Gambhir and experienced South African campaigner Jacques Kallis and it`s time for others to step up and be counted.
Gambhir had laid the blame on his middle-order batsmen for his side`s loss to Kings XI after restricting them to 134, saying it`s time they shoulder more responsibility.
As against Kings XI who won their lone home match so far, KKR have managed to win only one game out of three they have played so far at their home ground in Kolkata.
Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla and Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate have the capability to trouble Kings XI bowlers and the team will be hoping they turn the tables against Kings XI.
It will be interesting to see how KKR`s young West Indian spinner Sunil Narine and Bangladeshi spinner Shakib Al Hasan bowl on the Mohali track, known for its bouncy nature. Narine impressed all with his five-wicket haul against Kings XI and it will be interesting to watch how he is treated by the home side batsmen tomorrow.
In the last match played here on April 12 between Kings XI and Pune Warriors, pacers had dominated, with the home side`s Dimitri Mascarenhas claiming five wickets. The conditions here last week had been rainy and overcast and similar weather continued to prevail till today and tomorrow`s weather forecast also predicts cloud cover, with possibility of a spell of rain.