Rejuvenated Kings XI face KKR's bowling depth

Barring a loss of form, Shaun Marsh is likely to get an extended run this season, but Kings XI need him to perform soon © AFP

Match facts

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)

Big picture

After losses in their first two games, Kings XI Punjab would have feared a repeat of last year when they finished bottom of the table. But a desperate win against Rising Pune Supergiants came just in time for them to look at the rest of the season, and this match against Kolkata Knight Riders, a lot differently.

What did Kings XI do differently? Some would point to Mohit Sharma’s last over, in which he conceded only three to keep Supergiants to 152, as key in a format where matches are won or lost by small margins. Glenn Maxwell finally found form with a 14-ball 32 to take his side home. Openers M Vijay and Manan Vohra seem in good touch, but the same cannot be said of David Miller and Shaun Marsh, two of their most influential players. All these cogs need to work in unison against a bowling attack that can test an international batting line-up.

Knight Riders, with Sunil Narine back, seem infallible. From the team that thumped Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, only Suryakumar Yadav hadn’t played international cricket. With six international bowlers, their bowling depth is unmatched in the IPL. Captain Gautam Gambhir has struck two typically diligent fifties.

Despite the loss to Mumbai Indians, all the pieces fit perfectly for Knight Riders. However, they will have to guard against complacency and the format’s tendency to throw up upsets.

Form guide

Kings XI Punjab WLL (most recent matches first)

Kolkata Knight Riders WLW

In the spotlight

Marsh has scored 535 runs in 16 T20s since 2015 at an average of 38.21. He has played for Kings XI since the start of IPL and those sweetly-timed cover drives leave many followers wondering why he isn’t a regular member of the Australian side. Barring a radical loss of form, Marsh is likely to get an extended run this season and Kings XI need better returns on investment soon.

Bowling with a remodelled action, Narine was eased into the tournament in a low-pressure scenario. He was in charge of the 9th, 11th, 13th and 15th overs. He finished with an economy rate of 6.5, which indicates he still commands the respect of the batsmen. Would he still be as effective bowling in Powerplay and in the slog overs?

Team news

Kings XI are unlikely to tinker with a winning combination.

Kings XI Punjab (probable) 1 M Vijay, 2 Manan Vohra, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Miller (capt), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Kyle Abbott, 9 Mohit Sharma, 10 Pardeep Sahu, 11 Sandeep Sharma

With Mohali unlikely to aid spin as much as Kolkata does, Knight Riders may require the additional seamer instead of Shakib Al Hasan.

Kolkata Knight Riders (probable): 1 Robin Uthappa (wk), 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Colin Munro/Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Umesh Yadav

Pitch and conditions

Mohali provided some batting-friendly surfaces during the World T20. The trend continued for the two IPL games so far, where even carry and bounce aided stroke-making. The highest score at the venue, however, has been Gujarat Lions’ 162, while chasing.

Stats and trivia

  • Glenn Maxwell’s 32 not out in the previous game against Supergiants marked the first time he been unbeaten in 35 innings for Kings XI.
  • Gautam Gambhir (28) has struck the most IPL fifties, two more than David Warner, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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