The next IPL clash is between two mid-table teams, both of whom are playing to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth. On the one hand, we have the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who have not looked a very consistent unit this year. Though they are currently in the fourth position on the points table, Eoin Morgan's men haven't crossed the line in three out of their last five games.
On the other hand, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have managed to stage a comeback after having had the worst of starts to the tournament. KL Rahul's men walk into this game having won four matches on the trot. The side has transformed into a unit that refuses to give up, and has managed to steal victory from the jaws of defeat in recent games.
A fifth win tonight could see KXIP break into the top four on the points table for the first time; a commendable feat given that they had only won one game out of their first seven. Here's what they could do to ensure they get a win against KKR.
1. Play Nicholas Pooran at number 3
Chris Gayle has done well since coming into the team, having made 126 runs from four games. Despite it not being his regular position, the 'Universe Boss' has ensured that he is among the runs, and even has a half-century to his name. However, this recommendation is based on Nicholas Pooran's ability rather than
Nicholas Pooran, while not yet in full swing, has shown glimpses of his genius. The young southpaw has scored 327 runs in 11 games, and averages nearly 41. What KXIP should really look at though, is his strike rate, which currently stands at an astounding 173.
Another point to be considered is that Pooran has the ability to take quick singles - a much-needed skill in a fast-paced T20 format. If Pooran comes in at the fall of the first wicket and gets going, not only would he put away the bad balls but would also keep the scoreboard ticking with some quick running.
2. Get a specialist bowler in place of Glenn Maxwell
After 11 games, it is safe to say that Glenn Maxwell has been backed well by the KXIP team management. Unfortunately for the big-hitting all-rounder, things haven't gone his way, with only 102 runs in ten innings.
Maxwell, who averages 14.57 with a measly strike rate of 102, just hasn't gotten going. It may be time for KXIP to look beyond the Australian, despite him being their costliest buy of the season.
At the same time, we can expect KXIP's batting to be at full strength given that Mayank Agarwal is likely to return after being rested due to injury in the previous game. The batting (barring Maxwell) has fired in the last few games, and it would make sense for KXIP to replace Maxwell with a genuine bowler like Sheldon Cottrell.
3. Attack Varun Chakravarthy
Varun Chakravarthy would be riding high on confidence from KKR's previous outing against the Delhi Capitals, having picked up five wickets for just 20 runs.
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However, the main factor to be considered here is the size of the boundaries in the Sheikh Zayed Stadium (where KKR played DC), versus that of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium (where KKR will play KXIP). It is important to note that three out of Chakravarthy's five wickets in the Sheikh Zayed Stadium came from catches close to the boundary. The same shots in Sharjah would have probably ended up beyond the boundary line.
Keeping Sharjah's small boundaries in mind, and given that KXIP's top-order consists of explosive batsmen, Rahul and co could look to go after the mystery spinner from Tamil Nadu.Published 26 Oct 2020, 16:55 IST