IPL 2017, RPS vs KXIP: Kings XI Punjab's probable playing XI against Rising Pune Supergiant, Match 55
As the season rapidly approaches a thrilling finale, a high-pressure contest is set to captivate the spectators at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune as Kings XI Punjab visit the home of Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) with a place in the play-offs at stake.
Owing to their below par net run rate, Steven Smith’s team could crash out in the group stages if they fail to emerge victorious in this game. On the other hand, Punjab will be eager to qualify for the final four after enduring two poor seasons since reaching the final in 2014.
This could be Kings XI’s likely eleven in their vital clash against Supergiant.
The New Zealand opener looked in sparkling touch in the previous game against Mumbai Indians until a mistimed slog sweep ended his stay in the middle. If he gets himself in against RPS, Guptill will be eager to make a significant mark on the occasion. As always, his tactics against the turning ball should be keenly watched.
Due to Hashim Amla’s departure to South Africa, the wicket-keeper batsman was promoted up the order by the enigmatic Punjab’s ‘Director of Cricket Operations’, Virender Sehwag. Saha repaid the faith shown by the think tank with a resplendent 55-ball 93. His opening partnership with Guptill will be crucial in establishing the platform the attacking middle-order batsmen.
Unlike in the earlier games, Maxwell chose to come up the order against Mumbai after the openers had provided a strong start. If Guptill and Saha have another solid outing, the stage will be set for the aggressive Australian batsman to unleash himself on the opposition bowlers without any mercy.
One of the most experienced campaigners in the Punjab camp, Shaun Marsh can hold the innings together in the middle-overs and help the lower-order batsmen to express themselves when the action shifts to the business stages of the game. He should be looking to add to his collection of fifty-plus scores in what has been a longstanding association with the franchise.
A top-order batsman by trade, Vohra’s poor start to the season had consigned him to a position rather unfamiliar to his style of batting. However, he needs to find a way to contribute to the team’s cause. On the other hand, his instinctive hitting could come in handy if Punjab lose quite a few early wickets.
With 205 runs at an average of 29.28 and strike-rate of 144.36 as well as 14 wickets at an average of 24.92 and economy rate of 7.58, Axar Patel has been one of the most consistent performers in this season for Kings XI. Skipper Maxwell would want him to put in another steady effort in the decisive match.
After spending the vast majority of this IPL edition on the bench, Tewatia got the chance to feature in back to back games for Punjab. The leg-spinner vindicated the team management’s call by producing spells of 2/18 and 1/17. His 8-ball 15 also turned out to be priceless runs in the contest against the Knight Riders.
In a game producing as many as 453 runs, Mohit Sharma’s final over proved to be the ultimate difference against Mumbai. Despite putting himself in a position where lesser bowlers would have folded, he held his nerve to outclass the belligerence of Kieron Pollard. High on confidence, he will be hoping to feed off the energy emanating from the prospect of another must-win encounter.
Having been taken to the cleaners by Pollard and Hardik Pandya during the death overs, there could be question marks over Henry’s inclusion in the eleven. However, lack of viable alternatives should help him retain his spot. The Kiwi seamer has to be at his best if he were to take on the likes of Ben Stokes and MS Dhoni.
From 12 matches in this season, Sandeep has picked up 17 wickets which are the most by any Kings XI bowler. Aside from being a menacing threat with the new ball, he is also beginning to adapt admirably to the different requirements of the end overs.
Perhaps, there might be only one change that Punjab could make from the previous match. In place of the rather expensive Ishant Sharma who is operating at an economy rate of 9.82, Varun Aaron should return to the playing eleven. The 27-year old fast bowler can be used as a wicket-taking option at various stages of the game.