Stunned by a reviving Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI Punjab will look to get back to their winning ways when they challenge the bottom-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.
The Kings XI, placed at the fourth spot with three wins and three losses, will want to make amends against Kolkata, whose only win came against the Yuvraj Singh-led side by virtue of Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected tie.
After facing rain god’s ire in their initial two matches, Kings XI bounced back with a hat-trick of wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians but Vijay Mallya’s men stopped the Punjab juggernaut, pipping them by 8 runs on Friday night.
Yuvraj displayed an all-round performance by recording the first hat-trick of second IPL and hitting a rollicking fifty but still could not save the match as RCB’s new skipper Anil Kumble stole the thunder merely by maneuvering his men brilliantly in crucial moments.
However, with Yuvraj returning to form, it is good news for the Kings XI, who already have some matchwinners in Kumar Sangakkara and all-rounder Irfan Pathan.
The bowlers have also so far done the job well, with Yusuf Abdulla leading the charge with 13 wickets to don the purple cap.
Spinners Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar are also chipping in nicely and Pathan bringing the early breakthrough with his swinging deliveries.
In contrast, nothing seem to have gone right for John Buchanan’s boys as they lost five consecutive matches out of seven with the lone win coming against the Punjab.
The Knight Riders so far have looked like a house in disarray as neither their batting clicked nor their bowling seem to damage the opposition. They would need more than a miracle if they have to salvage any hope of making the semis.
While West Indian Chris Gayle has done bulk of the scoring, opening the innings with skipper Brendon McCullum, the Kiwi has been a total failure with the bat and now with Gayle leaving for national duty, Shah Rukh Khan’s team will have to look for a good replacement.
Even Sourav Ganguly, apart from a fighting 46 against Rajasthan Royals, has struggled with his batting, while Australian Brad hodge has shown only some sparks and Laxmi Ratan Shukla has failed to consolidate on the starts.
Their bowling have been equally lackluster with pacers Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda shining only in patches and spinners Ajanta Mendis and Murali Karthik not coming to their aid either despite the South African tracks turning, it being the end of their cricketing season.