6 wins in 10 games for Kings XI Punjab and 5 wins in eleven games for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2018 so far. The two teams have had contrasting seasons, with Kolkata having a lot of expectations on them but not being able to win consistently, while Punjab are perpetual under-performers but this has been one of their best seasons. However, they too have lost a bit of steam in their last 2-3 games.
Now this game will not have anything like a home advantage as it will be played at a neutral venue – Indore. If you look at these two sides on paper, you would think that KKR should walk away with a win pretty easily but we all remember that 9-wicket victory for Punjab the last they these two sides played a couple of weeks back. Both teams have weaknesses and a lot to work on if they want to perform well at the playoffs, if they get there.
Let’s begin with the problems Punjab are facing in IPL 2018 right now. After a brilliant start of 2-3 consistent scores, Chris Gayle has gone back to his usual inconsistent self where another failure could prompt management wanting to get Aaron Finch another go in the side. Similarly, the middle order consists of Mayank Agarwal, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary and Axar Patel, who, honestly speaking, shouldn’t even be playing in the IPL.
In this season of the Indian Premier League, Kolkata have had pace bowling issues, with their pacers being the most expensive in the season. They purchased the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc at the IPL 2018 auction but Starc was injured and Johnson and Tom Curran keep swapping out places to who who can go for more runs. Their strength is their spin bowling with Narine, Chawla and Kuldeep forming an important part of 12 overs.
However, the rest of their 8 overs is the liability. Young Shivam Mavi was injured and didn’t play the last two games. His replacement was Prasidh Krishna, who will be the target bowler if Mavi isn’t back for this game. Positives for Kolkata would be that they hold the head to head advantage against this team (14-8) and that knowing Gayle’s weakness against spin at the start of his innings, they have enough options.
However, Chris Lynn also has problems against spin early on and I won’t be surprised if Ahswin or Mujeeb are introduced within the powerplay overs to try and get rid of him early. Back Kolkata to win this and give themselves a chances to qualify to the playoffs of the 11th season of the Indian Premier League.
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