After a disappointing loss in their opening match, Kings XI Punjab will have to get their act together pretty quickly to bring their campaign on track when they take on in-form Chennai Super Kings in their second match of the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Wednesday.
Having lost to debutants Pune Warriors by seven wickets in their last game in Mumbai, Adam Gilchrist-led Kings XI Punjab start as underdogs and will require a huge effort to bounce back into the tournament with a strong performance against the strong Chennai team at the PCA stadium.
An ordinary display in all three departments of the game in their opening match has come as a big disappointment and a cause of concern for KXIP.
Describing the defeat at the hands of Pune Warriors as a “poor all-round performance”, Gilchrist had said that the team would take a little time to settle down.
The KXIP would be looking at their 39-year-old captain to turn things around, like he did for the Deccan Chargers when he led them to the title in 2009 in South Africa after a poor show in the inaugural edition under VVS Laxman.
Barring their semi-final appearance in the first edition of the IPL in 2008, the KXIP could not do much despite having big stars including Yuvraj Singh, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who are now leading different IPL sides, in the later editions and they will be desperate to prove a point with a new-look team this time.
They would draw a lot of confidence from the fact that they will be playing in front of their home crowd on Wednesday.
KXIP crumbled to nine for four against Pune to eventually get bundled out for a 112 in their last outing and if they want to have any chance against Chennai tomorrow they would definitely need Gilchrist, Shaun Marsh, Paul Valthaty, Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar and Sunny Singh to fire with their bat.
They would also be banking heavily on the lone successful batsman of the previous game – Ryan McLaren – who scored an unbeaten 51 to take the team past 100-run mark.
Bowlers in leg spinner Piyush Chawla, medium pacers Praveen Kumar and Nathan Rimmington, who could do little while defending a small total would look to play to their true potential.
The team will also look to improve on the fielding department as they dropped a couple of easy chances in the previous outing.
KXIP will also be pinning hope on Praveen Kumar, who unfortunately missed out on World Cup glory after getting injured prior to the mega event.
Gilchrist had earlier said that he does not rate his team as underdogs.
“If that’s what you (media) write, that’s what you write,” he had said.
On the other hand, led by the World-Cup winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, defending champions Chennai have made a good start to their campaign prevailing over Kolkata Knight Riders by narrow two runs in the tournament opener and they would look to continue the momentum.
Proving his leadership skills game after game, Dhoni will be hoping to have a strong performance against KXIP.
Dhoni and his trusted lieutenant Suresh Raina, who have a wealth of experience in this format of the game, would be key in the batting department while young Anirudha Srikkanth, riding high on confidence after his 64-run knock against the Knight Riders, would also looking to carry on with his rhythm.
Anirudha, son of Chairman of Selection Committee K Srikkanth, and his Tamil Nadu teammate Murali Vijay have the ability to score brisk runs and that might be a reason of concern for the Kings XI.
South African all-rounder Albie Morkel, who is an asset to the team, and the 35-year-old Kiwi veteran all-rounder Scott Styris, lend strength to the side.
The bowling department also looks solid with Morkel, off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Styris, Kiwi pacer Tim Southee and Sri Lankan Suraj Randiv — all ready to put their best foot forward.
In fact, Chennai would like to see Morkel and Southee exploit the bouncy track of Mohali to perfection.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (capt and wk), Dinesh Kartik, Abhishek Nayar, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Love Ablish, Mandeep Singh, Nitin Saini, Paras Dogra, Paul Valthaty, Shalabh Srivastava, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh, Vikramjeet Malik, Amit Yadav, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Nathan Rimmongton, Ryan Harris, Dmitri Mascarenhas.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Srikkanth Anirudha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, George Bailey, Doug Bollinger, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hussey, Shadab Jakati, Joginder Sharma, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Yo Mahesh, Albie Morkel, Abhinav Mukund, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Sudeep Tyagi, Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas, Ganapathi Vignesh, Murali Vijay.