Two teams struggling in different ways. One that’s failing to close out tight matches. Another that’s finding it hard to compete. No. 7 and No. 8. Both with 1 win from 4 matches each. Kings XI Punjab take on Chennai Super Kings in Dubai on Sunday. The winner will feel slightly more relaxed. The loser will feel one step closer to the end.
CSK started their campaign with a win over Mumbai Indians, sending signals that they’ll be a tough side to beat yet again. However, things started going downhill quickly. A loss to Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah was followed by further losses to Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Having lost three in a row for the first time in many years, CSK find themselves in a hole.
Kings XI Punjab started with a narrow loss to Delhi Capitals in a Super Over before thrashing RCB by a huge margin of 97 runs. However, another tight loss to Rajasthan and a big loss to Mumbai mean they’re seventh in the table. It’s a familiar territory for a team that has often promised a lot but failed to deliver.
Where does one begin. Their spinners are struggling. Their batsmen are struggling, with their intent coming under scanner. The top order is leaving plenty to do for an already struggling middle order. There are question marks over the spots of multiple players, with no readymade replacements available in the bench.
CSK are coming off a loss to SRH on Friday, and have only one day to make a turnaround. They had a six-day break between their previous two matches which helped them get a better combination, but the result is yet to come. They’ve spoken a lot about momentum from the top order, but they managed only 36 for 3 in the Power Play in chase of 165 against SRH.
They did manage to bring the margin of defeat down to 7 runs, but it was too little too late. Their catching – they dropped two catches – came under criticism from the captain too.
CSK’s bowlers did a fairly decent job, despite throwing away the advantage to young Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma. They need to step up with the bat though, for that’s the area where they’re losing momentum.
Despite questions over their spots, expect Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav to keep their places. CSK are unlikely to change their XI, but could do with a batting promotion for Sam Curran.
Predicted XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla
Kings Xi Punjab
KL Rahul’s men could already be thinking of lost opportunities. They failed to score 1 off 3 balls against Delhi. They lost to RR allowing Rahul Tewatia to smash 30 runs in an over. They bowled K Gowtham to Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya in the last over of the previous game, conceding 25 runs to give MI all the momentum.
Mayank Agarwal has the orange cap, and KL Rahul has promised to snatch it from him soon. Nicholas Pooran is getting among the runs too but apart from that, there’s been little from the rest. Glenn Maxwell’s poor track record in the IPL has continued, adding to KXIP’s woes.
KXIP have struggled in the death bowling too. Rahul completed Sheldon Cottrell’s overs quickly against MI, having seen him concede 5 sixes to Tewatia the other day. However, it meant an off-spinner bowling to Pollard and Pandya in the last over. MI smashed 104 runs from the last six. How do they fix this? How do they bring in more balance? That will be the big question.
It’s likely that KXIP could bring back M Ashwin against CSK. The legspinner did little wrong but was dropped to accommodate an off-spinner in Gowtham, perhaps also due to his batting abilities. Apart from that, it’s unlikely they’ll run out of patience with Maxwell already. Jimmy Neesham was expensive, and they could be tempted to bring in Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Predicted XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Sarfaraz Khan, Jimmy Neesham, M Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell