On a high after upstaging table-toppers Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab would seek to keep their slim hopes of making the IPL play-offs alive when they take on an equally desperate and unpredictable Kochi Tuskers Kerala on Friday.
Kings XI Punjab celebrated an unlikely victory over Mumbai after losing five matches on the trot. The unexpected victory gave a fresh lease of life to the floundering campaign of the franchise, owned in part by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta.
Punjab’s strength lies in their destructive batting but the line-up’s inconsistency has been a problem for the team. New find Paul Valthaty and skipper Adam Gilchrist form an intimidating opening combination but the duo’s inability to be consistent has cost the team dearly.
In the middle-order, however, Shaun Marsh has been doing his job well, notching up three fifties so far but the Australian needs good starts from the openers to build on.
But further down, Dinesh Karthik and David Hussey have yet to step up and Punjab would need them to strike form quickly.
On the bowling front, left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt has been a good find for the team and it was proved by his four-wicket haul against Mumbai in Punjab’s match.
In the pace department, Praveen Kumar has had a decent run but given the situation Punjab finds itself in, they will have to be consistent on every front to have any chance of progress.
Kochi, on the other hand, have had a roller-coaster of a ride so far. Most recently, after a couple of back-to-back wins, they were handed a rather crushing nine-wicket defeat by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Mahela Jayawardene’s men floundered in batting despite having big-hitters such as Brad Hodge and Brendon McCullum in the ranks.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is struggling too, adding to Kochi’s problems as his explosive batting comes in handy down the order.
The bowling doesn’t look any more formidable with RP Singh being a major letdown.
Besides, Jayawardene has also had to deal with the temper tantrums of pacer S Sreesanth, who threw a fit on being dropped from the side in the previous match.
Given the two teams’ performance so far, it seems to be an evenly-matched contest between sides, which remain in the hunt despite lackluster campaigns.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (c), Dinesh Karthik, 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, Ryan McLaren, David Miller.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel, Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Thisara Perera, Raiphi Gomez, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ramesh Powar, VVS Laxman, Sreesanth, Muttiah Muralitharan, Owais Shah, Steven Smith, Balachandra Akhil, Deepak Chougule, Gnaneswara Rao, John Hastings, Michael Klinger, Chandan Madan, Sushant Marathe, Steve O’Keefe, Tanmay Srivastava, Padmanabhan Prasanth and Yashpal Singh.