The IPL 2021 caravan moves to the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad as the Punjab Kings (PBKS) take on the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the venue’s first game of the season. While KKR will look to snap their losing streak, PBKS will look for a win that will propel them into the playoff spots.
The Punjab Kings come into this contest having beaten defending champions Mumbai Indians in their last game. PBKS played the perfect game in Chennai, with a clinical bowling performance followed by a measured batting effort handing them a nine-wicket win.
The top order batted brilliantly on the night, and Chris Gayle’s return to form will be a big boost to the side. Ravi Bishnoi impressed after making his debut appearance of the season, and PBKS’ team balance looked better than it has all season against MI.
While PBKS snapped their three-game losing streak with a win against MI, there was no such luck for KKR. Eoin Morgan’s men find themselves at the bottom of the IPL 2021 standings, courtesy of a four-game skid.
They were beaten by RR in all departments of the game in their last encounter as they succumbed to a six-wicket defeat. A pedestrian powerplay start led to a middle-order collapse, and Eoin Morgan admitted his batsmen lacked intent against RR. The meagre 134-run target was comfortably chased by RR, as KKR’s bowlers once again failed to make the breakthroughs.
Although it hasn’t been the best of times for KKR this season, they would take some solace from the fact that history is on their side on Monday. KKR have beaten PBKS 18 times in the league, while losing on nine occasions. They have lost just once to PBKS since the start of IPL 2019.
IPL 2021: PBKS vs KKR Match Prediction
The India vs England T20I series showed the venue has numerous pitches offering varying challenges. Both teams will be playing their first game in Ahmedabad, and the pitch is likely to impact their team combinations.
Irrespective of the conditions, PBKS are unlikely to tinker with their top six. Although Nicholas Pooran is yet to fire for them in 2021, the West Indian ace is just a couple of lusty blows away from striking form. KL Rahul will have a point to prove in Ahmedabad after registering two ducks and just 15 runs in four T20Is against England earlier this year.
Fabian Allen was brought in specifically for the slow Chepauk track and could make way for Chris Jordan or Jhye Richardson against KKR. The extra fast bowler could also prove to be handy at the death, considering Mohammed Shami’s record against Andre Russell. Dre Russ strikes at 285.19 against the PBKS pacer in the IPL, and KL Rahul would do well to have a death-bowling alternative in case history repeats itself.
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Eoin Morgan will be more confident of his chances in Ahmedabad considering he has led England here in five T20Is. He will hope to see more intent from Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill at the top, with the latter being trolled for his slow starts this year. Gill has three half-centuries in five games against PBKS, and the KKR opener may play himself back into form on Monday.
Harbhajan Singh may come back into the side if the pitch offers some turn, with the veteran off-spinner having dismissed Chris Gayle five times in the IPL. He has also scalped the wicket of KL Rahul thrice, and Eoin Morgan may use him in the powerplay against PBKS.
Both teams desperately need a win, which would make Monday’s clash a bit of a slugfest. Eoin Morgan is too good of a skipper to continue losing, and KKR have the personnel to pull off a victory if they all fire at the same time. If the openers can get a quick start and set up a platform for the all-star middle-order to finish with a flourish, we could see some fireworks in Ahmedabad.
PBKS have taken time to adjust to each venue this season, and the same may be the case in Ahmedabad. While their batting isn’t an issue, their bowling deficiencies could be exposed depending on the conditions. Expect them to lose to KKR on Monday.
Prediction: KKR to win