The knockout stages of the Indian Premier League don’t officially take place until next week but that is not strictly true for the Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders when they do battle in Mohali on Friday.
The equation for both of these teams is pretty simple. They must win to stay alive. Whoever loses here will be watching the latter part of the tournament on TV so for these two knockout cricket begins here and now.
Kings XI Punjab
It had been a wonderful start for the Kings XI Punjab side with four wins from their opening six matches, but just one victory in six since then has left them scrambling for their tournament lives. They have had a decent period to reflect on where they have been going wrong in recent matches and put together a plan to come out fighting and pick up the two wins they need.
It has been their bowling that has been the issue in recent times. Their lack of a competent death bowler continually kills them as even when they do the hard work in the opening 15 overs it all comes to nothing later on in the piece. That is putting pressure on their batsmen and not enough of them are in good enough form to cope with it.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Amazingly, the Kolkata Knight Riders got off to an even better start with four wins from their opening five games with just a narrow super over defeat mixed in with that, but they have hit the buffers in a big way since then. They have gone from looking like champions elect to battling hard just to make it to the latter stages of the competition.
Quite simply their batsmen haven’t performed. Had Andre Russell not delivered the fireworks that he has their season would have been done and dusted a long time ago. They can’t keep relying on him with the bat. They need someone to stand up and be counted with the ball as well if they are to avoid having to fight hard for these two wins.
The make up of this Kings XI Punjab side hasn’t been easy to predict throughout the tournament but it would be a brave selection to go with Mujeeb Ur Rahman after the battering he got with the ball last time out. It might be time for Sam Curran once again.
Kolkata Knight Riders look to have ditched Sunil Narine as an opener now so their batting line up is set to be unchanged. They might decide to play a third spinner on this huge ground in which case Kuldeep Yadav could return.
The first meeting between these two sides was a high scoring clash and I’m seeing no reason why we are not going to get another one here. Three of the five matches on this ground this season have had a first innings score in excess of 170 and these two are probably two of the most powerful batting line ups in the competition, and more importantly two of the leakier bowling attacks.
Both teams know the weakness they have with the ball so in a knockout match whoever bats first will have to pile up the runs so I’m certainly approaching this as a high scoring contest. The runs line here is 340.5 and with the outfield always quick here and plenty of twos on offer too I’m expecting that to be covered nicely.
WON – Back Over 340.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with Betway