The Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) registered the biggest win of IPL 2020 yet when they came up against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their second game of the tournament. A 97-run drubbing of Virat Kohli’s men took KXIP to the top of the table, albeit temporarily.
It’s all been downhill since. Four consecutive defeats later, and KL Rahul and the Kings XI find themselves rooted to the bottom of the IPL 2020 points table with just two points in six matches, and almost destined to bow out of the tournament at the end of the league phase.
Later today, they face off against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who have had a few troubles of their own this season, although incomparable to what KXIP seem to be going through. KKR captain Dinesh Karthik has come under the scanner on multiple occasions this season, but they still do feature in the top half of the table without really getting out of third gear.
Currently in fourth place, KKR seem set to make a charge for the top 2 places come the end of the season. The Kolkata franchise seem to be sorting out their troubles in the line-up, one issue at a time.
While a lot of eyes were on a misfiring Sunil Narine at the top of the order, the team management chose to promote Rahul Tripathi up the order. Thus, they did ease the pressure on the West Indian all-rounder while also retaining Narine’s irreplaceable bowling contributions in the powerplay overs.
Although we currently see two teams on the opposite ends of the spectrum, it could all change with one match. KXIP will want to prove themselves, and also prove that the victory over RCB was more than just a flash in the pan.
KKR, on the other hand, will want to break the shackles and try to take their place amongst the best sides in the tournament. Given the atmosphere around this KXIP v KKR fixture, we could be in for a thriller at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi today.
IPL 2020: KXIP v KKR Match Prediction
As mentioned earlier, KKR seem to be dealing with one problem at a time. Having sent Rahul Tripathi up the order earned them a victory against the Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday.
What it also did was help ease a bit of the pressure off Sunil Narine. Coming in at number 4, we were treated to the Narine of old. A six and a four early in his innings suggested that the player was back to being his former self, but alas, he would have to make the long walk back after being dismissed by leg-spinner Karn Sharma.
Although Dinesh Karthik’s captaincy has been under fire of late, a settled top-order will go a long way in solving his problems. Add to that the sheer firepower lower down the batting line-up, and we could be in for a treat at the back end of the innings.
Although they’re yet to truly make a mark in the tournament, the likes of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell could go hammer and tongs in the death, if the likes of Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana are successful in setting the platform for the team.
Despite being eighth in the table, KXIP find their openers occupying two of the top 3 spots in the Orange Cap standings. Although this would seem to absolve their batsmen of any wrongdoing, KL Rahul has had more than his fair share of criticism for a perceived refusal to up the run-rate when the team needs it most.
While the KXIP captain has gone on to disregard the importance of strike-rate, stressing instead on the importance of individual player roles in the line-up, a slightly less divisive argument can be made about Glenn Maxwell.
The Australian star of the KXIP team has looked fairly out of sorts, and is yet to cross the 50-run mark in the tournament. This lack of form could lead to his ouster from the XI, in favour of Chris Gayle.
The West Indian opener could prove to be KXIP's biggest trump card yet. His inclusion would see one of the openers, mostly Mayank Agarwal, drop down a spot, thus bringing the fireworks further up the order.
Add Nicholas Pooran’s desire to send the ball over the boundary as often as possible to the mix, and the opposition could be in for disaster if things fall in place for the Punjab franchise, of course.
Going into this game, one would have to back KKR purely on form, however. And the inclusion of Rahul Tripathi at the top of the order may just be their biggest game-changer yet.
Prediction: KKR to win today’s match.Published 10 Oct 2020, 10:58 IST