New Delhi: Kings XI Punjab will have an opportunity to displace the Kolkata Knight Riders from the top of the VIVO IPL 2018 standings when the two teams come up against each other in the match 18 today.
KKR and KXIP have three wins apiece, though the former have played one match more than KXIP’s three. KKR sit atop the standings, courtesy a superior net run rate. Both teams come into this match riding on superlative performances in their respective previous matches. KKR took the confidence of a resounding win against the Delhi Daredevils at home when they travelled to Jaipur and humbled the Rajasthan Royals in their fortress.
KKR’s worry would be the form of dashing Australian opener Chris Lynn who lasted just two balls against Rajasthan and departed cheaply without troubling the scorers. Lynn has struggled against spin and was seen playing with a horizontal bat in only the second ball of his innings to K Gowtham who castled him.
KKR had Nitish Rana, who fired with bat and ball once again and their wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla to thank for the second triumph in a row. Rana took two crucial wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and D’Arcy Short when both were looking good for a big score. With the bat, KKR’s most consistent player so far remained unbeaten on 35 to see them cross the line with ease.
KXIP, too, have the confidence of consecutive wins behind them; first, they defeated the Chennai Super Kings by a narrow margin of 4 runs and most recently handed Sunrisers Hyderabad their first defeat of the season.
Chris Gayle has now won KXIP two matches in a row, and his performances would have not only set expectations among fans and within the team but also set fear among bowlers. Besides Gayle, Punjab bat deep with the likes of big-hitting Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and ageing Yuvraj Singh in their ranks. Their bowling lacks experience, especially in the pace department. Mohit Sharma went for a lot of runs against Hyderabad and will have to get his act together against KKR.
Notwithstanding the fact that the surface at the Eden Gardens hasn’t been as friendly to spinners as it once used to be, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mujeeb ur Rahman will have a huge role to play in this contest.
Kings XI Punjab have lost more matches to the Knight Riders than they have lost to any other opponent. KXIP haven’t won a match at the Eden Gardens in their last five visits to the venue; the last time they won at the venue was in 2012.
Team Head to Head
Overall: Matches – 22, Kolkata Knight Riders won – 14, Kings XI Punjab won – 7
At the Eden Gardens: Matches – 9, Kolkata Knight Riders won – 7, Kings XI Punjab won – 2
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c), Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi and Tom Curran.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), Yuvraj Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Mayank Dagar, Aaron Finch, Chris Gayle, Manzoor Dar, David Miller, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, Axar Patel, Lokesh Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, Manoj Tiwary, Andrew Tye, Ben Dwarshuis, Ankit Rajpoot, Pardeep Sahu, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Akshdeep Nath.
The match starts at 4 PM IST.