In match 46 of IPL 2020, Kings XI Punjab will take on Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah on Monday. The match is expected to be a close encounter as both teams are motivated post their respective victories on Saturday.
Kings XI Punjab were involved in another last-over contest as they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in a low-scoring thriller. The Punjab bowlers defended a low total of 126 and won the game by a margin of 12 runs. KXIP are currently on a four-match winning streak and sitting just below KKR on the points table at the fifth spot.
Here’s a look at Kings XI Punjab’s predicted playing XI against Kolkata Knight Riders:
KL Rahul is currently the orange cap holder in the IPL and has scored 567 runs in 11 matches. His strike-rate has been a concern but considering Punjab’s fragile middle order, that seems justifiable. Rahul has taken up the mantle of playing the anchor role while allowing the freedom of playing risky shots to other players. He has taken back the gloves and is at the forefront of Punjab’s resurgence this season.
There is no confirmation on the injury issue of Mayank Agarwal yet, therefore Mandeep Singh will open for the time being. Mandeep played under heavy emotional weight against Hyderabad, as his father passed away a day before. He opened the innings, scored 17 runs off 14 balls, and contributed to the team’s victory as KXIP won with a slender margin of 12 runs. Mandeep also took an important catch of Jason Holder at cover. If Agarwal isn’t fit, expect Mandeep to continue.
Chris Gayle has been Punjab’s lucky charm this season, as they have won all the four games which the left-hander has played. Gayle started the season with a fifty in a winning cause and then has chipped in with some handy cameos. He is batting at number three to provide the impetus in the middle-overs; because once he gets set, there is no stopping the Universe Boss.
After a quiet start to the tournament, Nicholas Pooran is hitting his straps. His match-winning half-century against Delhi and a gritty 32* versus SRH has boosted Punjab’s confidence in their middle-order. The 25-year-old has smashed most sixes this tournament and will have an important role if Punjab are to qualify for the play-offs. He is a gun fielder in the deep and had pulled off some spectacular saves.
The most telling fact about Glenn Maxwell’s batting is that the Australian is yet to hit his first six this season even after playing 11 matches. He has been horribly out of form since arriving in the UAE from international duties- where he struck a century against England. However, the Punjab management has put faith in their big-money purchase and are hoping for Maxwell to turn things around. He provides a decent fifth bowling option, which has been a major factor for him keeping a place in the side.
Deepak Hooda has been a good buy for the finisher’s role. He has played a couple of calm knocks under pressure in run-chases against Delhi and Mumbai. Hooda can also bowl a few overs of off-spin if required.
Chris Joran has finally lived up to his tag of a death-overs specialist against SRH. In his four overs, defending a lowly score of 126, Jordan conceded 17 runs and picked three crucial wickets. Bowling in the death, the right-hander scalped the wickets of Manish Pandey, Jason Holder, and Rashid Khan to bowl Punjab to a memorable victory. Jordan is also a hard-hitter and will be handy at number seven.
Murugan Ashwin has been the mystery spinner for Punjab this season. He has been utilized well by captain Rahul who has asked the spinner to bowl in the powerplay as well. The leggie has picked 8 wickets in 6 matches at an economy of 7.58. He has choked the opposition batting order in the middle overs with his spin partner, Ravi Bishnoi.
India’s under-19 star spinner, Ravi Bishnoi is also now Punjab’s key spinner. Bishnoi’s economy of 7.43 is the best in the Punjab team. He has plucked 10 wickets and has troubled batters with his guile and change in pace. Rahul has banked highly on Bishnoi and Ashwin to cramp the opposition in the middle-overs, and both the leggies have done the job decently.
Mohammed Shami has been Punjab’s strike bowler, especially with the new ball. He is Punjab’s leading wicket-taker this season with 17 wickets and is a contender for the purple cap. Shami’s line and length has been impeccable, particularly in the powerplay, and he displayed his potency to bowl pin-point yorkers in the death.
Arshdeep Singh has been one of the finds of the tournament. The 21-year-old from Madhya Pradesh has played the supporting role to Jordan and Shami at his best. His medium pace and slower balls are his weapons. He has also bowled a few overs in the death and shown good composure under high pressure.