IPL 2017, KXIP vs KKR: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Today's probable playing 11 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
KKR will be looking to book their place in the playoffs with a win.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) ended their two-game losing streak with a convincing victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game. With eight wins under their belt already, Gautam Gambhir's side need just one more victory to ensure qualification for the playoffs. In their way are the Kings XI Punjab who know that a defeat is enough to rule them out of contention.
The experiment of opening with Sunil Narine may have had it doubters at the start but after the Trinidadian smashed the fastest fifty in the history of the IPL (his first in T20s), there are few left standing. Even when Narine hasn't been able to contribute heavily with the ball, he has made up for it with an explosive start.
If there were any doubts about Chris Lynn's fitness and how he would return from a shoulder injury, they were banished after the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Australian batsman showed that if there were any limitations the injury put on his batting, it wasn't enough to stop him from adding to his tally of runs in this year's tournament. With a fifty on his return, Lynn will be looking to continue his impressive performances towards the latter stages of the tournament.
Gautam Gambhir may not be flashiest player in the side but he has continuously shown that just playing good cricket shots can still fetch runs. With over 400 runs to his name in the tournament already, Gambhir has been the pillar of consistency around which the KKR batting has been built. With four fifties to his name already this season, the KKR captain will look to continue his good form against Kings XI.
With KKR all but assured of a playoff spot and Robin Uthappa still not completely fit, the team wouldn't want to risk him and that is likely to give another chance for Sheldon Jackson. A fully-fit Uthappa will walk into this side but for now, the forgotten wicketkeeper, Jackson, is likely to get another chance to showcase his credentials.
Impressive performances at the start of the tournament has helped Manish Pandey secure a spot in the Indian side for the Champions Trophy next month. The ideal middle-order batsman who is capable of the big shots at the end and keeping the scoreboard moving at the start, Pandey will be looking to celebrate his spot in the Champions Trophy squad with a big knock against Kings XI.
Yusuf Pathan will himself admit that he hasn't been his destructive self in this year's tournament but he has the potential to take the game away on his day. The fact that he provides the flexibility for Gambhir in the batting order and also turn his arm over means that he will continue to get a go in the starting XI. With the playoffs not too far away, an in-form Yusuf will be crucial and the explosive all-rounder will be keen to make his mark, against Kings XI.
Colin de Grandhomme
Even if Yusuf Pathan's place in the side has been questioned by some, he at least has the experience of winning matches single-handedly in the tournament. At times, Colin de Grandhomme's place in the side has made people wonder why the Kiwi all-rounder is even in the side as he doesn't always get to contribute with the bat or the ball. But last game was proof that KKR want the explosive all-rounder to take on more responsibility and contribute not just with a couple of overs but some runs as well.
Despite taking 15 wickets in 12 games, Chris Woakes has been flown under the radar in this year's tournament. Although the England seamer has been expensive at times, he has the knack of picking up wickets and the ability to execute his plans both up front and at the death. The fact that he can wield the willow as well is also something that he has in his favor, even if he hasn't got an opportunity to do so in this edition so far.
After being struck on the helmet by his compatriot Daniel Christian in the game against RPS, Nathan Coulter-Nile was rested for the game against RCB and is likely to stay on the bench as a precautionary measure with the playoffs not too far away. Although he was playing in only his second game of the tournament, Rajpoot was impressive and is likely to get another go as a result.
Although he was always capable of bowling fast, Umesh Yadav has added consistency to his arsenal and that has been difficult to get away. He has a variety of skills in his bag and made a strong impact so far, which he will look to continue against Kings XI.
Replaced by Piyush Chawla for the game against RCB, Kuldeep Yadav is likely to find his way back into the side for the Kings XI clash. The wrist spinner has been unpickable at times and his control despite being a chinaman bowler makes him an invaluable asset in the shortest format of the game.