Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that tonight's encounter between the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be an entertaining affair, considering the close matches the former have played thus far in IPL 2020.
He made this observation while previewing the clash between the two teams in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra started by pointing out the significance of the match between the Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders, with a win for the former likely to make the fight for the final playoff spot even closer.
"All eyes will be on the encounter between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab because the two teams are at the fourth and fifth positions currently. But if Kings XI Punjab win this match, the two teams will have the same number of points with only net run rate being the difference."
The reputed commentator highlighted that both the teams will face the same two sides in their remaining couple of matches post this clash. This would take the battle right down to the wire if the Kings XI Punjab win tonight's encounter.
"And the story ahead is that both the teams play the same opposition in their upcoming matches, Chennai and Rajasthan with just the sequence being different. So, it will be even-stevens if Punjab wins this match."
He observed that a win for the Kolkata Knight Riders, on the contrary, would help them join the top three teams on 14 points and make it extremely difficult for the Kings XI Punjab, the Rajasthan Royals and the Sunrisers Hyderabad to bag a place in the playoffs.
"But if Kolkata wins this match, they will reach 14 points which will mean that the top 4 teams will be on 14 points and the rest of the teams will be trying to make it somehow but it will become very very tough."
Aakash Chopra pointed out that the Kings XI Punjab are a team on the ascendancy, since they've even eked out wins from seemingly impossible situations.
"Punjab is a team on the rise. They have won four matches in a row, even from situations where it was impossible to win. A lot of things were not going their way earlier but now all things are going in their favour."
The former KKR player highlighted that the Kings XI Punjab have been the most entertaining team in the tournament thus far and that he does not expect anything different from them in tonight's encounter.
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"The word 'Entertainment' defines Kings XI Punjab and you can expect the same thing this evening."
Aakash Chopra on the likely team compositions of the Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders
Talking about the likely team changes, Aakash Chopra observed that the Kings XI Punjab would surely bring Mayank Agarwal back if he has recovered from his injury.
"I don't think there is scope to change too much. The only difference I can see is that if Mayank Agarwal is fit and available you should definitely play him because he had scored a ton in this ground only."
He pointed out that the Kolkata Knight Riders benefitted a lot from Sunil Narine's inclusion in the last match while adding that his batting position will be still up for debate.
"If we talk about Kolkata, the return of Narine has made a huge difference for them. It will be an interesting point where they will bat Narine because he had scored 64 runs off 32 balls in the last match but Nitish had scored runs as an opener. So the question will be if they will stick with him."
Aakash Chopra reckoned that the Kolkata Knight Riders are unlikely to field Kuldeep Yadav, considering the small Sharjah ground and Varun Chakravarthy's exceptional performances.
"I don't think they will play Kuldeep in this ground and Varun Chakravarthy has been absolutely outstanding."
The 43-year-old added that KKR could have a huge selection headache if Andre Russell is deemed fit to play, with Eoin Morgan, Narine, Lockie Ferguson and Pat Cummins already occupying the four overseas slots.
"They may definitely want to play Russell if he is available. But whom will they play him for if he is fit because they already have the captain, Narine, Lockie and Pat Cummins. So that is a big question they may have to address."
Aakash Chopra signed off by picking the Kings XI Punjab as the likely victors in their clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders tonight.
"I am going with Punjab."
A win for the Kolkata Knight Riders in today's encounter will take them a step closer to the playoffs and widen the gap to the three teams below them.
A positive result for Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, would help them leapfrog the Eoin Morgan-led side in the IPL 2020 points table and make the race for the final playoff spot very interesting.
Published 26 Oct 2020, 12:51 IST