Glenn Maxwell is in a red-hot form this IPL © IANS
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Apr 25, 2014
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have been the side to beat at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Bolstered by some sterling performances by Glenn Maxwell, Punjab have ruled the tournament so far and they are up against a side that will carry some confidence into this contest. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) pulled a rabbit out of the hat by beating Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by two runs. That should give them confidence coming into this game.
Abu Dhabi hasn’t been an easy venue for chasing under lights. So, whichever team wins the toss, they will bat first and set the target for the other team. But, Punjab have that confidence in them and even if they are made to chase, they would back themselves, That is where Kolkata can exploit the situation and put Punjab in a spot.
In the last game, Kolkata brought in Chris Lynn and what an addition he was for them. He not only scored important runs, but also took a splendid catch that helped them seal the game. Also, Piyush Chawla made way for Umesh Yadav. For this game, it is possible that Chawla could come back given the nature of the surface at Abu Dhabi.
Gautam Gambhir desperately searches for runs as he has recorded three consecutive ducks at the beginning of the tournament. It is important for him to get going as that is an area they have been hindered. Robin Uthappa, Suryakumar Yadav and Manish Pandey form a good middle order with Lynn. Again, Kallis would be the key at the top. As far as the bowling goes, Sunil Narine leads the attack. But, there is also a Morne Morkel, who can bring spice to the contest with some bounce.
Punjab bank on Maxwell of course and one fears the law of averages may catch up with him. But, they have enough strength in George Bailey and David Miller in the middle. Virender Sehwag was also getting into some form and he would hope to build on it. Cheteshwar Pujara may be an area of concern, but team management have faith on his skills.
Punjab’s bowling put up a good performance in the last game and would approach this encounter with confidence. Mitchell Johnson is back to a good rhythm and Lakshmipathy Balaji helps him out with his variations. Akshar Patel is also a good left-arm spinner and it is fascinating that he keeps Murali Kartik out of the team.
It is tough to call who would win, but Kolkata are confident and Punjab are the force someone has to stop.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, Rishi Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Thisara Perera, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Murali Kartik, Sandeep Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Akshar Patel, Parvinder Awana, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Shivam Sharma, Karanveer Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Piyush Chawla, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Sayan Mondal, R Vinay Kumar, Andre Russell, Veer Pratap Singh.
Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)