Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight face each other on Monday in a game that could significantly have an impact on the race for the fourth position.
The two teams that are favorites in the race for the fourth position in the final leg of the league phase will be coming up against each other on October 26. Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Kolkata Knights Riders (KKR) meet in Sharjah on Monday after a thrilling win in their last game.
KXIP showed resilience and character to defend a total of 126 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday. The Punjab-based team was on the back foot for the majority of the game. However, a stellar bowling performance in the last five overs helped them to win the fourth game in a row.
On the other hand, KKR also finally clicked in all departments to beat Delhi Capitals last weekend. The batting unit of KKR posted an enormous total, while the bowling unit strangled DC to clinch a massive 59 runs victory. At the moment, KKR currently sits fourth in the table with 12 points, while KXIP is on 10 points in the fifth position.
KXIP will be hoping that the last game was just a blip for the batting unit. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have been in fine form, so the onus will be on them to give the team a solid base at the top of the order. Nicholas Pooran showed calmness in the last game to take KXIP to a respectable score. The young batsman needs to show consistency to strengthen KXIP’s batting. The team management will be hoping that in form Mayank Agarwal is fit for Monday’s game.
For the majority of the tournament, KKR has struggled to post big totals. That changed in the last game as Sunil Narine scored quickly in the middle order, and Nitish Rana scored 81 runs at the top of the order. The ploy of opening with Rana worked for KKR like a sweet charm. The Kolkata based franchise would like a better contribution from Eoin Morgan in the next few games.
In the bowling department, Pats Cummins finally delivered a big performance by taking three wickets in four overs at an economy rate of just above four. He was well complemented by Varun Chakravarthy, who managed to pick five wickets against DC. The 29-year-old spin bowler has been consistent for KKR throughout the tournament, keeping Kuldeep Yadav out of the lineup.
KXIP has been struggling to bowl in death overs in IPL 2020. That was not the case against SRH. Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh suffocated SRH in final overs to register a memorable memory. Both of them took three wickets in their spells. KXIP would like to emulate a similar economical bowling performance against KKR on Monday.
A victory will see KXIP move fourth due to a better net run-rate than KKR. Meanwhile, the Kolkata based franchise can open up a four points gap over KXIP in the fourth position by clinching a win in Sharjah. It is essentially a four-pointer that will have a big role in deciding the fate of playoffs. The winning team will gain the upper hand in the race for the fourth position.
By Kiran Thakare