IPL 2018, KKR vs KXIP: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) probable playing XI vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
Will KKR make any changes for their game against Punjab?
Having gotten off to a strong start in the league, both Kings XI and the Knight Riders stand in the top 4 of the table. Despite playing one match more than KXIP, the Kolkata team only have the same number of points as the Punjab franchise - 6.
Striking an equal balance with bat and ball, and youth and experience, let's look at the probable team of KKR against the Punjab:
If Dinesh Karthik is looking to make changes, it wouldn't be in the top order. The team is riding on the power-packed opening pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine. The duo haven't quite struck up a large partnership yet but have definitely scored when the other has gone missing. Pushing Narine down the order in the match against SRH didn't work well for the Knight Riders. Captain Karthik will be looking to revert to his usual opening pair for the start.
The upper middle order starts off with Robin Uthappa and the youngster Nitish Rana. On the rare occasions that either Narine or Lynn misfires, Uthappa gladly stands up to the task. Rana, after spending a great season with the Mumbai Indians, has continued his lethal form with the KKR, contributing quick runs to boost the total. On the other hand, Uthappa has been consistently strong with the bat.
Dinesh Karthik, with a calm and balanced head on his shoulders, in his debut season of captaincy in the IPL, concludes the upper middle order. He had mentioned in a post-match presentation ceremony that he was working on isolating his duties as a captain from those as a batsman, and he has been quite successful at it.
No one in this world would trade Andre Russell's place in the playing XI. Unlike many other teams in the tournament, KKR possess a proper hitter in their lower middle order. In case of a crisis or otherwise, the Carribean gem has proven to be the best pick in the team. Following him would be Shubman Gill. The U-19 star hasn't quite made it big in the IPL after much hype about his game. Scores of 3 and 6 so far mean he hasn't quite looked the part. However, more time in the middle would help Gill to get back to his explosive best.
Moving on to the bowling front, a spin-heavy unit have gotten things done for KKR through the season. Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav will continue to be the ace spin-duo for the side, preventing the flow of precious runs and also picking wickets. The third spinning option comes from Narine who is again in the contention for the purple cap.
Rana, with his off-breaks, has become a go-to bowler for Karthik. Picking up important wickets including that of Virat Kohli in their match against RCB, he is more than just a part-timer. In addition to that, Andre Russell is also a decent option that can be introduced into the attack.
After Vinay Kumar leaked plenty of runs in his overs, youngsters Tom Curran and Shivam Mavi, have been tasked with leading the pace attack of the team. Although their performances haven't been extraordinary, they have been steady. Sharing a couple of wickets between each other, the duo will continue to support the spinners to complete the quota of 20 overs.
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