Preview: Kings XI Punjab charged up to ride on Kolkata Knight Riders for IPL title
Bangalore – Storming into an Indian Premier League (IPL) final for the first time, Kings XI Punjab are all charged up to take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here Sunday.
Though Kings lost to Knights by 28 runs in the first qualifier in Kolkata on Wednesday, they bounced back to beat Chennai Super Kings by 24 runs for the third time to make their first appearance in IPL final.
With dashing opener Virendra Sehwag back in form, as evident Friday from his flamboyant 122 in 58 balls (8x6, 12x4) against CSK, Kings' middle order - Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and captain George Bailey - have to fire again as in the league games, which made them head the points table (22), with a record 11 wins and three losses.
In their league encounters, both the finalists had the honours of winning and losing to each other.
After Kings won by 23 runs at Abu Dhabi April 26 during the tournament's first leg, Knights avenged this by winning by nine wickets at Cuttack May 11.
Interestingly, while Kings won all its five league ties in the UAE leg, Knights bounced back with seven consecutive wins in the tournament's domestic leg against other teams, resulting in grabbing 18 points from nine wins and five losses.
Knights were title holders in 2012 having beaten CSK in Chennai, while the former won twice (2010, 2011) and were runners up thrice -- in 2008 against Rajasthan, 2012 against Knights and Mumbai Indians 2013.
Kings bowlers will be under pressure again, as they were against CSK whose south paw Suresh Raina exposed their chinks Friday with an explosive innings of 87 in just 25.
But for a smart run-out by Bailey when Raina was in full cry after posting 100 runs on board in just six overs of power-play, Kings would not have been in finals even through eliminator.
While Kings will bet on Mitchell Johnson and Parvinder Awana for early breakthrough, onus will be on Sandeep Sharma and Akshar Patel containing Knights' marauders like its orange cap holder and opener Robin Uttappa, captain Gautham Gambhir, Manish Pandey and the unpredictable Yusuf Pathan, who can script victory at ease.
Similarly, Knights' bowling quartet, led by wily spinners Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla and pacers Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav will face the heat if Kings' Sehwag, Maxwell and Miller get going on a batting wicket under floodlights in front a 40,000-strong packed stadium.
Toss and truant weather will also play a key role, as a spell of pre-monsoon rain or thunder showers is forecast for Sunday night.
Teams: Kings: Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey (c), Wriddhiman Saha (k), Akshar Patel, Mitchell Johnson, Rishi Dhawan, Karanveer Singh, Parvinder Awana, Shivam Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mandeep Singh, Anureet Singh, Beuran Hendricks, Murali Kartik, Shardul Thakur, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Sandeep Sharma,
Knights: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (k), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, Morne Morkel, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav, Jacques Kallis, Manvinder Bisla, Kuldeep Yadav, Veer Pratap Singh, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sayan Mondal, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das and Vinay Kumar.