Kings XI Punjab will take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL 2019 clash that is pivotal for both sides’ chances of making the playoffs. (Live updates)
Both teams have identical heading into this encounter: having played 12 games each, they have won 5 and lost 7. Whoever loses this match will be all but out of the tournament.
Incidentally, both KXIP and KKR started the tournament with wins before a few losses struck a blow to their chances of finishing in the top 4.
KKR ended their six-match losing streak with a win over the Mumbai Indians at home whereas KXIP’s loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad was their third straight defeat on the trot.
Here are 5 player battles that will determine the fate of this must-win match for both sides.
Chris Lynn vs. R Ashwin
It says a lot about the nature of destructive batting on display at the Eden Gardens last Sunday that Lynn’s half-century was something of a footnote in the story of the match.
But the Australian has played a few key knocks for KKR this season and looked in good touch against MI as well, scoring 54 off 29 balls and setting the platform for the Andre Russell blitz that followed.
His main weakness, however, is against the turning ball and this is where Ashwin comes in to the fore. The KXIP skipper is not afraid to lead from the front and regularly takes it upon himself to bowl during the powerplays.
Should Lynn manage to see out Ashwin, the likelihood of him getting a big score goes higher. But should Ashwin get rid of him early, then the onus of scoring the bulk of the runs will fall on KKR’s inconsistent middle order.
Chris Gayle vs. Sunil Narine
The self-anointed ‘Universe Boss’ hasn’t featured among the runs in KXIP’s previous two encounters against SRH (4) and RCB (23) and is due a big knock, especially considering how top-heavy the side’s batting is.
He has shown flashes of his best form lately though and he is a player who when on song, can single-handedly win his side games.
To counter him, KKR will most likely turn to Narine. The off-spinner has shown signs of slowly getting back to his wicket-taking ways and has on previous occasions accounted for his West Indies teammate.
Gayle isn’t someone who struggles against spin as much as most overseas players do but he is susceptible to falling victim to spin early in his innings, meaning Narine will be entrusted with the task of dismissing him again.
Andre Russell vs. Mujeeb ur Rahman
Russell was once again the star for KKR as they ended their losing streak against MI, his 80* proving enough in the first innings despite Hardik Pandya threatening to steal his thunder at one point.
Russell, like his fellow Jamaican Gayle, is adept at playing slower bowlers but does tend to struggle to put them away at the beginning of his innings, meaning R Ashwin might just turn to the Afghan sensation to snare the opposition’s star man.
Mujeeb had been out with a shoulder injury and his previous outing against SRH was one to forget, as he conceded 66 runs without taking a wicket.
However, he is a canny operator with the ball and would be the man best entrusted with the job of putting pressure on Russell early.
KL Rahul vs. Harry Gurney
Rahul has once again been the main man for KXIP and without his runs at the top of the order, it’s fair to say the Mohali-based franchise would not have been in this position.
Currently the second-highest run getter in the IPL 2019, the Indian has been in good form lately and the task of getting him out early will most likely fall on Gurney.
The Englishman’s first foray into the cash-rich T20 league has been a mixed bag but he did get the key wickets of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya in KKR’s previous match.
Getting Rahul early will not be easy given the kind of form he’s been in, but the longer he stays at the crease the likelier KXIP are to score big.
Shubman Gill vs. Mohammad Shami
Gill started the season in the lower order but KKR’s struggles saw the team make some changes to the batting line-up. He was promoted up the order and has looked far more comfortable there.
He played a vital knock against MI, scoring 76 off 45 and has opened the batting alongside Lynn in the last two games. There’s also the fact that Gill plays for Punjab in the domestic circuit and would be familiar with the conditions on offer at Mohali.
Mohammad Shami has been experiencing a career renaissance in white-ball cricket and that form has carried on into the IPL. As the more experienced new-ball bowler, he will look to knock Gill over cheaply.
The youngster does start his innings cautiously and can be a little unsure against the new ball. Shami is adept at getting some movement early in the innings and how well Gill can navigate that will likely determine how much he influences the match.