One of the biggest success stories in IPL 2020 has been the form of the Kings XI Punjab's openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. With 574 runs scored between the duo over the course of five matches, the KXIP openers have looked like a million bucks at the top of the order.
However, the opening partnership and a couple of standout bowling performances from Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell have been the only silver linings among dark clouds for KXIP.
The Rahul-led side are languishing at the bottom of the points table with four losses in five games, and face an uphill task of winning seven of their next nine matches.
Their opponents for today, the Sunrisers Hyderabad, have two wins from five games but have lacked consistency. SRH commenced their campaign with two losses, then picked up two wins in a row but finished on the losing side against the Mumbai Indians in their previous encounter.
And, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out of the tournament owing to an injury, SRH face a race against time to nail the perfect combination and get their campaign back on track.
With both KXIP and SRH desperate to bounce back to winning ways, we're in for a cracker of a Punjab v Hyderabad contest today.
IPL 2020: KXIP v SRH Match Prediction
If one was to turn the clock back and revisit the past matches played by both these sides, the areas of concern for KXIP and SRH have striking similarities.
Both sides have pinned their hopes on the top order, and the bowling units have failed to fire in unison. However, while KXIP are still heavily dependent on Rahul and Agarwal, SRH's move to bring in Kane Williamson gives their batting a lot more solidity, albeit, only till No.4.
As for KXIP, the musical chairs within the middle order has not helped their cause one bit, and they will need to find a way to sort out that issue. Nicholas Pooran and Mandeep Singh - the latter scoring a 27 in his first game - have looked good, and how they accommodate Glenn Maxwell in that unit will be a big topic for discussion.
SRH, though, might need to conjure up some serious plans to put early pressure on KXIP with lead pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out of IPL 2020. While Rashid Khan has been at his imperative best, the SRH pace unit has lacked bite.
T Natarajan's ability to nail the yorkers at a latter stage has worked well for them, but David Warner could be devoid of quality options in the powerplay and during the slog overs.
Jonny Bairstow's form at the top could also be a matter of concern, with the Englishman putting up scores of 25 and 0 from his last two games. With Shami and Cottrell capable of bringing the ball into Bairstow, he'll need to be at his best to get back into form. And, if he doesn't, SRH might yet again find themselves in trouble early on.
As has been the case in IPL 2020, the SRH batsmen have thrown away their wickets in their attempt to up the ante, and if the KXIP bowlers find a way to restrict their opposition batsmen to 20s and 30s, it could be game, set and match.
At this stage, SRH seem to have a fair few issues to sort out in all departments, and with KXIP itching to get out of last position on the IPL 2020 points table, the scales might be tipped in favour of Punjab today.
Prediction: KXIP to win today.Published 08 Oct 2020, 10:29 IST