In what has been a tale of contrasting fortunes for the Kings XI Punjab in the second half of the ongoing season, KL Rahul's men will be eager to pick up their third win in a row when they square off against the Delhi Capitals in the 38th match of IPL 2020 in Dubai.
KXIP will be coming into this game after coming up trumps against the Mumbai Indians in a thrilling encounter that went into a second Super Over, a win that finally saw them vacate the last position on the IPL 2020 points table.
Chris Gayle's inclusion in the playing XI has proved to be a major shot in the arm for KXIP, with the burly Jamaican having amassed 77 runs in just two matches he's played so far.
Mohammed Shami's return to form will also be a heartening sign for KXIP, with the pacer registering figures of 2/30 before defending six runs in the Super Over to take the game into the second Super Over.
Although KXIP will be upbeat, they will need to stand guard against resting on their laurels, for coming up next will be a huge test in the shape of Shreyas Iyer's Delhi Capitals.
Delhi have won the last five of their six encounters, and barring the one loss to MI in this period, they've won most of their games by comfortable margins. DC are perched on top of the IPL 2020 points table with seven wins from nine matches, only one win away from an all but assured spot in the playoffs.
With KXIP facing a must-win situation and DC keen to have one foot in the door, we could be in for an exciting Punjab v Delhi clash later today.
IPL 2020: KXIP v DC Match Prediction
While Punjab might take heart from the fact that they ran DC close in the sides' IPL 2020 season opener and only lost in the Super Over, the Capitals have looked unstoppable in Dubai and have won all of their four matches contested at this venue.
Shikhar Dhawan followed up his twin half-centuries with his maiden IPL century against CSK in a tense run-chase last game. At the same time, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje's presence in the top 10 positions on the IPL 2020 Purple Cap list will also bode well for DC.
As for KXIP, a lot has hinged on the opening duo of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal's form with the bat. Chris Gayle's addition to that batting unit has played a big part in KXIP's recent success, and against an experienced DC bowling unit, the top 3 will need to be at their best.
The last time these two sides met, the KXIP middle order struggled to put away the spinners, particularly Axar Patel (4-0-14-1) after Ravichandran Ashwin (1-0-2-2) walked off the field due to a shoulder injury.
A lot has changed since then, majorly personnel on both sides. Sheldon Cottrell's poor show has seen him lose his place, while Rishabh Pant's injury has sidelined him for the past few games.
Pant's unavailability has, in turn, forced Shimron Hetmyer to watch all the action from the sidelines while Alex Carey dons the keepers' gloves for DC. While Carey hasn't looked his part, DC's policy to back players and take a leaf out of CSK's no chop and change philosophy has worked well for Iyer's side.
However, Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane's poor returns with the bat could be quite a concern for DC, and with Shami bowling himself back to form, the onus will yet again be on Dhawan and Iyer to do the bulk of scoring.
What's more, with Gayle and Pooran striking form, Rahul's back to batting freely at the top of the order, which could be ominous signs for the DC bowling unit. Moreover, there's no doubt that Gayle's presence in the team has added the firepower and unearthed the lost energy in the side.
And with a lot at stake for KXIP, it wouldn't be wise for DC fans to count their chickens before they hatch.
Prediction: KXIP to win today.Published 20 Oct 2020, 10:58 IST