IPL 8: Title holders KKR look for consistency against Kings XI Punjab
Pune: Their campaign off to a sedate start, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders would look to return to winning ways when they take on a dangerous Kings XI Punjab in their next Indian Premier League match on Saturday.
The Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata side had a mixed outing in the T20 tournament so far, having registered a win and a loss in the two matches they have played this season.
After getting off their title defence with a seven wicket mauling of Mumbai Indians, KKR slumped to a three-wicket defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last match.
On Saturday, KKR would be looking to get their campaign back on track with some consistent show in the tournament.
KKR's batting has been rock solid in their first two matches having registered scores in the range of 170. Skipper Gautam Gambhir is in rollicking form striking back-to-back fifties, while the likes of Manish Pandey, Surya Kumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell also contributing with the willow.
But it KKR's bowling which is a cause of concern. The likes of Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan and Piyush Chawla need to take up more responsibility to help the team's cause. In fact, Narine has been economical in both the matches but he went wicket-less and that is what is hurting KKR the most.
On the other hand, Kings XI too did not have the best of starts in this year's IPL having lost two and won just one out of their three games so far.
After losing by 26 runs to Rajasthan Royals in their tournament opener, Kings XI bounced back strongly to beat Mumbai Indians by 18 runs. But their campaign suffered another jolt when they lost by five wickets to Delhi Daredevils here on Wednesday.
In the presence of Murali Vijay, Virender Sehwag, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Glenn Maxwell and skipper George Bailey, Kings XI possesses a heavy batting line-up which has the capability to tear apart any bowling attack. But for that to happen they need to fire in unison, which has not been the case so far.
The likes of Vijay, Sehwag, Saha, Bailey and Miller all got starts but they need to convert their starts into big scores.
But the main cause of concern for Bailey would be the form of explosive Maxwell, whose highest score in three matches was just 15. Kings XI's bowling attack also has been inconsistent as the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Sandeep Sharma, Anureet Singh and Rishi Dhawan leaked runs in crucial junctures.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (Capt), Anureet Singh, Parvinder Awana, Rishi Dhawan, Yogesh Golwalkar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Beuran Hendricks, Mitchell Johnson, Karanveer Singh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Nikhil Naik, Axar Patel, Thisara Perera, Wriddhiman Saha, Sandeep Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (Capt), Azhar Mahmood, Johan Botha, KC Cariappa, Piyush Chawla, Pat Cummins, Aditya Garhwal, Brad Hogg, Sheldon Jackson, Kuldeep Yadav, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Sumit Narwal, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Veer Pratap Singh, Vaibhav Rawal, Andre Russell, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Robin Uthappa, Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Chris Lynn, James Neesham.