High on confidence after a hat-trick of victories, title holders Deccan Chargers would be hoping to continue the winning momentum against party-poopers Kings XI Punjab on Friday to stay in hunt for IPL semifinal spot.
Deccan made a remarkable comeback in the tournament with three consecutive wins after they were down and out at one stage with a string of defeats.
Deccan beat Royal Challengers Bangalore twice apart from defeating Chennai Super Kings in their last three outings to be back in reckoning and now the defending champions will have to win both their remaining games to seal their last four place.
Kings XI, on the other hand, have nothing to lose as they are already out of the high-profile Twenty20 tournament.
With back-to-back wins against table toppers Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, the Mohali-based side has already made their intentions clear that they are out to spoil the party of a few teams.
With the likes of skipper Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma and T Suman up its rank, Deccan’s strength lies in its batting department.
But the inconsistency of the batting line up, especially the top order, remains to be a matter of concern for Deccan. Gilchrist showed occasional glimpses of his brilliance with the bat while Gibbs has been far from impressive.
Suman chipped in with useful contributions whenever necessary and the duo of Rohit and Symonds came to the side’s rescue on more than one occasion. But what Gilchrist would be looking for is a combined effort from his batters tomorrow.
Deccan’s bowling, however, has improved with every passing game. Australian Ryan Harris’ turned out to be a valuable addition to the Deccan pace attack which also has India discard RP Singh.
But what must be heartening for Gilchrist is the emergence of a little-known Harmeet Singh, who turned the match on its head in one over against Bangalore the other day.
On the spin department, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha has been a consistent customer.
With semifinal hopes dashed, Kings XI would look to restore some pride in their remaining matches.
Punjab’s campaign has been plagued by inconsistency and controversies, especially surrounding explosive batsman and former skipper Yuvraj Singh. The stylish left-hander has been in pathetic form and even though he got starts, he is not been able to convert them into big scores.
Irfan Pathan, however, showed his mettle with both bat and ball whenever he got chance while leg-spinner Piyush Chawla continued his improved show.
However, Australian Brett Lee, who is returning from an injury, turned out to be a disappointment so far while his pace partner S Sreesanth has been making news more for his temperamental behaviour then his bowling.