Kolkata Knight Riders take on Kings XI Punjab in a clash that will determine the champions of IPL 7
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
May 31, 2014
The best two teams of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2014) stand some distance away from the summit. Either Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) or the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would lift the coveted title when they face off in the IPL 2014 final at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. These two sides deserve to be where they are as Punjab dominated the league stage and Kolkata scripted a remarkable recovery to make it through to the playoffs.
Kolkata have had the better of Punjab in the IPL 2014 so far as they have won two out of their three encounters so far, which includes one in the Qualifier. In the last two games, which were won by Kolkata, they used the slow surface to good effect. Umesh Yadav too contributed in the last game. However, one gets the sense that the spinners would play a crucial role. Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan and Piyush Chawla could have a big impact on the game. Karanveer Singh and Akshar Patel would lead the charge for Punjab.
The great thing ahead of this game is that both sides have strong top order batsmen who are in great form. Gautam Gambhir is back amongst the runs, but it is Robin Uthappa who has set the stage alight with some dazzling performances. In all the games in the India leg, he has scored over 40 and Kolkata will need him to shine for one more time. On the other side of the equation, you have Virender Sehwag, who is fresh from a ton and has found his touch. For company, he has a youngster in Manan Vohra, who is fearless in his strokeplay.
Both teams also have some good batsman in the middle order. Kolkata would bank on Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey to score quickly. Whereas Punjab have David Miller, Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey. It would be interesting to see if KXIP promote Maxwell to No 3 for this crucial encounter.
Again, when it comes to the fast bowling, both sides have equal measure. Morne Morkel and Yadav hold the key for Kolkata, whereas Mitchell Johnson and Parvinder Awana are the key players for Punjab. Butif these two sides are brought on the same platform, Kolkata will emerge stronger in the spin department, and this would help them hold the edge.
That apart, there isn’t much to chose from the two sides. The Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore has small boundaries and one can expect runs-galore on a pitch that has seen huge scores in the past. We are in for a fantastic game if there are runs on the board.
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
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)